Support a Soprano to Sing

“If I cannot fly, let me sing” ~ Stephen Sondheim 

·  Royal Welsh College of Music: MMus Music Performance (Voice)
·  Start date: 21 September 2020
·  Tuition fees: £22,527 (two-year course)
·  Additional costs: rent & household contributions, vehicle upkeep, travel/petrol, college parking, music, academic books, printing and copying, stationery, concert dress, annual website fees, performers union membership & graduation gown

My name is Jo Westaway and I am a Welsh soprano.  My greatest wish in life is to have the opportunity to live and breathe music freely. I have one powerful and treasured asset and that is my voice.

I have been given a wonderful opportunity to overcome the biggest regret of my life to date - that I lacked the confidence to pursue a career in music sooner.

I have spent the last seven years working in the child protection arena while self-funding singing lessons, gaining distinctions in performance diplomas, attending workshops with eminent professionals and performing extensively.  Being accepted anywhere was always going to be a challenge at my age, but I can say proudly that I am the 40-year-old soprano, with no undergraduate degree, who got herself a guaranteed unconditional offer to study postgraduate vocals at one of the UK’s top five music conservatoires, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD).

To quote one of my favourite TV programmes as a teenager, “Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth”. And this September, I will be doing exactly that when I return to my birth city of Cardiff, home of RWCMD, 22 years after I left.

In the midst of this year’s pandemic I, along with many others, have lost income and performance opportunities – which will impact singers for a long time to come.  I am not eligible for the majority of the bursaries available to younger musicians because of my age. I realise that fund-raising, too, comes at a most difficult time for everyone.

I have done my best to raise every penny I can. I have sold most of my belongings of any value, saved furiously, applied for a student loan, researched and applied for alternative funding, secured some casual work until the end of the year and  arranged to live with my 85 year-old grandmother to save on outgoings. But still I find myself coming up short.  

Young musicians train their whole lives for this opportunity and I’ve been lucky enough to get it with what my singing teacher, international mezzo-soprano Diana Moore calls, a “super unusual” set of circumstances.

I do not want to look back in another 20 years with yet more regret. I must therefore ask for your support to help me grasp this chance with both hands and give it my all. This is my time and I will be eternally grateful to any contributions made.

Updates on my progress will be available on my website and Facebook page.  You will also find more music there, so do take a look and listen. 

Diana Moore says: “It’s a dream for many aspiring young singers to gain a Postgraduate Study place at one of the UK’s Royal Music Conservatoires. A place guarantees access to the highest level of professional training and preparation a budding artist can get. Talented singing students, of all voice types, apply from all over the World and the competition is extremely fierce.

That’s why Jo’s achievement is all the more remarkable and deserves your support. Gaining one of those places as a soprano is notoriously difficult as, typically, there are more applicants for this voice type. But Jo is also a mature student with no vocal undergraduate background. In my experience, I have only heard of a tiny handful of postgraduate places being offered to older students, and NONE of these have been sopranos, namely because the competition has been too strong and Conservatoires often feel duty bound to offer the opportunity to younger students first. The adjudicators spotted something outstanding in Jo and chose her, above and beyond, for an unconditional offer.

I urge you to support Jo’s cause. This is a remarkable offer and she has worked tirelessly to achieve it. She only finds herself asking for help because of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on her existing fundraising efforts. 

She’s earned her next step - please help her take it. I know she’ll give it everything she’s got.”


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Jo Westaway 
Chedgrave, East of England, United Kingdom
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