Owing to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Trust’s programme of visitors for 2020 was suspended in April. In light of the current uncertainty and continuing risk of the spread of infection, the programme has now been postponed in its entirety until 2021. All candidates who were awarded places to visit us in 2020 (see the list here) have been offered alternative dates next year. For this reason there will be no applications process this year and all places for 2021 should be considered filled. The Trust will invite applications in autumn next year for visits to London in 2022.
The Trust recognises that visits may remain impossible in 2021, and the programme will remain suspended until visitors from overseas can safely be accommodated without any risk to the health of the Trust’s staff and the permanent residents at its two London houses, or to the visitors themselves. We are nonetheless hopeful that it will be possible to resume the programme in the Spring and in any case will continue to keep prospective visitors informed of developments.
New ways of supporting students in 2020
Ordinarily, the Trust receives visiting researchers in the warmer months of the year, generally from April to November. Two visitors, Anna Fedorova and Karolina Bagdone, arrived in London in March but, sadly, both had to cut their visits short when the UK went into lockdown. The programme was suspended at that point and by the middle of the year it had become clear that it should be postponed in its entirety. As the Trust was therefore unable to undertake such a large and important part of its work, the Trustees began considering alternative ways of providing support to students and at a special meeting in September they agreed to four proposals, which have since been acted upon, as follows:
A ‘Robert Anderson Trust Special Award’
First, The Trustees agreed to create a special award for a deserving student of the Royal College of Music (RCM) to support them through the next year of their studies. The ‘Robert Anderson Trust Special Award’ is intended as a response to the current very challenging situation in which musicians and other artists have suffered greatly as a result of the cancellation of performances and other activities which are essential to their work.
In consultation with the College it was agreed that the award should be given to John Paul Jennings, a student of conducting, to enable him to begin a two-year Master’s degree. As Dr Anderson was himself a conductor (see here), we believe John Paul (about whom further information is available here) to be an excellent candidate for the award, and we wish him every success in his studies.
A New Resident Musician at Hornton Street
Second, with no prospect of any visiting students staying at the Trust’s houses until spring at the earliest, the Trustees agreed to make a room at its Kensington house on Hornton Street available at a subsidised rate, to another student of the RCM. With the assistance of College staff, a suitable candidate was identified: José Teixeira, a bass trombonist from Portugal, who, thanks to the Trust’s offer, can now afford to begin his Bachelor’s degree.
Owing to the current COVID restrictions José was required to self-isolate at the house on arrival. Appropriate measures were put in place to ensure that he could be kept well supplied without leaving the building, and to minimise any risk of infection among residents (as has been the case throughout the crisis). We are delighted to have been able to help make José’s studies possible and look forward to following his progress in the coming year.
Grant to Resident Music Student
Third, recognising that the Trust’s current Resident Music Scholar, David Hedley, had suffered a significant loss of income as restrictions had made teaching difficult and public performances impossible, a loan made to David in Spring 2020 was confirmed as a grant, with no requirement that it be repaid.
Lastly, as most of the Trust’s visiting students come to London primarily to make use of specialist libraries containing literature essential to their research, recognising the detrimental impact that the postponement of their visits would have the Trustees agreed to make a ‘book grant’ to each of those who were awarded a place to study in London in 2020. All were notified of the grants in September 2020 and invited to select a book or books up to a certain value which the Trust would then purchase and dispatch to them in their home countries. While we recognise that one or two books could be no substitute for a month spent in the finest libraries London has to offer we hope that the gesture will make a difference to our students, however small, both to their capacity to continue their research and in lifting their spirits! In return, all were asked to send photographs of themselves with their books and these appear below and on the Trust’s social media accounts, as a reminder of the number and variety of research projects the Trust supports and a sign of its determination to remain active despite the ongoing crisis. We are grateful to them for their photos and hope to see them all in 2021!