The names of the seven musicians who will take part in 2023 Jerwood Pit Perfect programme, which starts later this autumn, have been revealed by Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne.
The scheme offers recently graduated professional instrumentalists the opportunity to join the Glyndebourne Sinfonia during the opera house’s autumn season. This year Pit Perfect celebrates its sixth anniversary.
Places on the scheme are offered to selected instrumentalists each year, depending on repertoire and vacancies. This year, places were available for first and second violin, cello and double bass for performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787), which runs from 12 November-2 December.
The musicians selected for these positions are violinists Yuliya Ostapchuk and Eriol Guo Yu, cellist Theo Bently Curtin and bassist Yat Hei Lee.
The Jerwood Foundation is supporting the programme for the next three years. Due to this support Glyndebourne was also able to recruit three associate Pit Perfect players who will also participate in rehearsals and sit in on at least two performances of Don Giovanni. These places are taken by bassist Yijia Cui, bassoon player Hazalen Tang and timpani player Nick Cowling.
All seven of the Jerwood Pit Perfect participants will also take part in a number of chamber music performances at Glyndebourne and elsewhere with a programme that includes new works by the current participants of the opera house’s Balancing the Score programme for composers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in classical music, Alex Ho and Lucy Armstrong.
Launched in 2018, the Pit Perfect scheme is unique in the UK in treating the participants as professionals from the start; the young musicians work on an equal footing alongside established professionals and are paid for their participation.
As well as taking part in rehearsals and performances, participants are mentored by an existing member of the orchestra and offered further development opportunities including one-to-one instrumental lessons and seminars on life in the music profession.
Profiles for all seven of the 2023 participants are available on Glyndebourne’s website, along with more information about the Pit Perfect scheme.
Over the years, a number of Pit Perfect musicians have been invited to return to the orchestra following their time on the scheme. In 2023 there are eight returning players, five of whom return in principal or sub principal positions.
Jonathan Tunnell, manager of the Glyndebourne Sinfonia, said: “The Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme has proven to be a great success as a pipeline for new talent coming into the orchestra. Among those returning this autumn is violinist Haim Choi who took part in the scheme in 2021 and will return to the orchestra as principal first violin for the second year running, sitting No 2 alongside the orchestra leader Richard Milone – a crucial position that would require Haim to lead the orchestra in Richard’s absence.”
Glyndebourne’s autumn programme includes productions Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love, 1832), plus concert performances of Haydn’s choral work The Creation (1799) and Handel’s Messiah (1742), as well as the return of the annual Glyndebourne Christmas Concert.
The 2023 Jerwood Pit Perfect participants. Clockwise from top left: Yuliya Ostapchuk, Eriol Guo Yu, Theo Bently Curtin, Yat Hei Lee, Yijia Cui, Hazalen Tang and Nick Cowling.