This year marks the centenary of the birth of renowned Welsh opera singer Sir Geraint Evans. To celebrate this landmark occasion, the Cardiff-based Royal Welsh College of Music (RWCMD) has announced a new £150,000 scholarship fund for opera singers.
Details of the scholarship were revealed at a special commemorative event that took place on 29 September. Not a Bad Voice: Celebration of Sir Geraint Evans was held at RWCMD’s Richard Burton Theatre.
It was an evening of film, singing and story-telling from those who knew the noted bass-baritone and those he continues to inspire. Presenter Nicola Heywood-Thomas led the event; also taking part were Sir Geraint’s sons Huw and Alun Evans, RWCMD director of music Tim Rhys-Evans, RWCMD head of vocal studies Mary King and Scottish baritone Donald Maxwell, alongside graduates and students of the college.
The Sir Geraint Evans Centenary Scholarship will aim to inspire future singers. The £150,000 bursary will provide a full scholarship to the David Seligman Opera School for the next 10 years in Sir Geraint’s name. It will favour baritones and Welsh singers.
The first Sir Geraint Evans Centenary Scholar was named as South Korean baritone Edward Kim, who joined the David Seligman Opera School in 2021. He performed at the event, alongside fellow RWCMD students.
“I’m deeply honoured to be the first recipient of the Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship,’ Kim commented. “This support is really important to me as it gives me the opportunity to hone my skills and receive the training I require as a young opera singer.
“Sir Geraint Evans was an amazing inspiration to all singers, especially to us male voices. He had a wonderful voice and stage presence, and most importantly, he knew his instrument well. I hope to be the same and to use this support and trust given to me to be a better singer and to spread the love of this amazing artform we call opera.”
The fund has been made possible by significant support from The Mosawi Foundation and The Linbury Trust. Members of the public can also contribute.
Speaking of the grant, Professor Helena Gaunt, RWCMD principal, said: “Scholarships and bursaries are helping us to become a different kind of conservatoire, one that is more welcoming, relevant, diverse and accessible.”
“Awards like the Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship will help us to nurture artistic talent, encourage diversity and provide opportunities to those who are exceptionally gifted, whatever their financial circumstances. We are so grateful to Sir Geraint’s family for allowing us to continue this important work in his name.”
Despite humbly referring to himself as having ‘not a bad voice’, Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992) was one of the most successful Welsh singers of his generation. He performed leading roles in the major opera houses of the world, including the Royal Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Glyndebourne. He was particularly acclaimed in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff (1893).
Sir Geraint was a firm favourite with opera-going audiences. He sang more than 70 different roles in a career that spanned more than 40 years. He gave highly acclaimed televised masterclasses, taking young professionals through key operatic works, and was renowned for his willingness to help young singers and actors.
“Wales is the Land of Song and few embodied that more than this Knight of the Realm, born one hundred years ago,’ Tim Rhys-Evans, director of music at RWCMD, commented.
“From humble Valleys beginnings, Sir Geraint Evans’s enormous contribution to international opera is still felt today and especially so at RWCMD where he served as president until he died. A great voice, a great man and a great legacy!”
South Korean baritone Edward Kim, the first recipient of the new Sir Geraint Evans Centenary Scholarship, performs at a special event commemorating the centenary of the great Welsh singer’s birth (Kirsten McTernan).