Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellowship
All fellows are expected to develop musical and communication skills by undertaking further intensive study, working with students internally and doing all they can to raise the profile of the RCM externally. They play a full and active part in the musical life of the RCM as well as functioning as RCM ambassadors. They have full use of the RCM Library with its wealth of material and work in close contact with the Creative Careers Centre, the RCM’s centre for professional skills and publicity services.
Lord and Lady Lurgan Fellowship applications for 2024-25 has now passed. Applications will reopen for 2025/26 Fellowships in Autumn 2024.
Current Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow
Ella O'Neill, piano
Ella O’Neill is in demand across the UK as a pianist specialising in vocal collaboration. In April 2019, she won the Help Musicians UK Accompanist’s Prize in Memory of Arthur and Gwyneth Harrison in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall. In September 2022, she returned there for the final of the Wigmore Hall/Bollinger International Song Competition with tenor Laurence Kilsby, who was awarded first prize. More recently, the duo made it to the final of the prestigious 2023 Das Lied Competition in Heidelberg, Germany, where Laurence was again awarded first prize. Last year, the duo spent a week in New York participating in the Carnegie SongStudio, where they made their debut in two out of Carnegie Hall’s three performance spaces- the Zankel and Weill Recital Halls.
Other performance venues and festivals for Ella have included Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Cadogan Hall, the Royal Opera House Crush Room, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Sage Gateshead, Cedars Hall, Heidelberger Frühling Lied Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Buxton International Festival, Leeds Town Hall for Leeds Lieder and Brighton Dome for Brighton Festival with Roderick Williams and guests. Ella reunited with Roderick this year to perform Schubert’s Winterreise, in an English translation by Jeremy Sams, at Opera Holland Park for their Opera in Song recital series. Ella has also performed live on BBC Radio 3 InTune with Roderick Williams, Mark Padmore and Themba Mvula.
Ella is a Samling artist and now works regularly as a staff pianist with Samling Institute for Young Singers, as well as Oxenfoord International Summer School. As a répétiteur, Ella has worked for companies including Grange Park Opera, English Touring Opera, Mid Wales Opera and the Tête à Tête Festival. She also enjoys a long-standing professional relationship with vocal teacher Rosa Mannion. This has enabled Ella to develop a thorough understanding of vocal technique and how best to support singers as a coach.
Ella is currently the Lord and Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow at the Royal College of Music. She graduated with distinction from the RCM in July 2019, where she studied postgraduate piano accompaniment with Simon Lepper, Kathron Sturrock and Roger Vignoles. During her time there she won the Alasdair Graham Pianist Prize in the RCM Lieder Competition and second prize in the Brooks van der Pump English Song Competition. Prior to that she studied undergraduate piano with Mei Yi Foo at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she won the Bryan Davies Memorial Piano Accompaniment Prize.
The Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow receives a tax-free bursary for which they carry out activities including musical work specifically designed to improve and widen their skill sets. Their commitments include being involved in RCM activities, including receiving guidance and informal tuition, and practice time on pianos provided by the RCM. Bursaries are intended to supplement, not replace, contributions from applicants' own resources.
At the beginning of the academic year written approval must be obtained from the Projects Manager for their individual plan of study and involvement at the RCM. Bursaries are paid only after this approval has been confirmed. Funds are then normally made available on a termly basis, subject to satisfactory progress.
Applicants from outside the UK should note that they are required to indicate on their application what evidence they can show to prove their right to be in the UK for the duration of the fellowship.
The Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow is responsible for arranging their own lessons and other tuition. Tuition may include lessons with RCM professors or those not directly associated with us. Fellows are also responsible for planning their own work routines and monitoring their effectiveness. Funds may also be used for tuition in related areas of study, such as coaching on other areas of repertoire, language study, related instruments and costs associated with starting out in the profession.
The Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow is required to accompany one-to-one lessons, faculty classes, examinations and others as agreed with their relevant Head of Faculty. Accompaniment is likely to be in the region of 540 hours over the year, primarily during the RCM’s 30 teaching weeks.
The Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellow will report to the Head of Keyboard and to the Projects Manager, but also to the Head of the Faculty to which they are assigned.
You will be required to:
- Lead, coach, direct, inform and work with RCM performers and composers
- Provide advice, contacts, and examples of career development which should help current students
- Accompany for the faculty to which you are assigned but also be able to accompany for all faculties as required
- Liaise with and give support to the Head of Keyboard, and the Head of the faculty to which assigned and the Pathway Leader for Postgraduate Accompaniment
- Act as duo partner for students in concerts, prize competitions, faculty and guest masterclasses and examinations.
- Be a member of the team of Accompaniment Fellows, giving support to others, attending regular Fellowship meetings and contributing to wider events
- Live in Greater London and be based at the RCM and normally be on site at least four days a week in term time
- Organise and/or become involved in projects and activities which enable you to work with current RCM students
- Participate in the organisation of and attend the annual Fellows’ evening
- Attend special events as RCM representatives, contributing to these as requested
Applicants should already have successfully completed formal studies at a level equivalent to a postgraduate diploma or degree or be completing these studies in the academic year in which the application is made. Applications will be considered from those with equivalent experience.
It is preferred that your existing formal studies have included specialism in piano accompaniment.
Applicants need to be able to demonstrate:
- Wide experience of piano accompaniment and duo work
- Excellent proficiency in sight-reading
- Considerable collaborative skills
If you are not a UK resident, you must obtain permission to be in the UK from the UK Border Agency in order to hold a fellowship. Accompaniment Fellows are not eligible to hold or extend student visas. An option currently available for fellows who are not UK nationals is the Youth Mobility Scheme.
These conditions are set by the UK Government and can change. Please ensure you visit their website for the most up-to-date information.
How to apply
Applications for 2024-25 are now open for the Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellowship. The application deadline is Friday 2 February 2024.
Applicants are required to submit a portfolio supported by a letter of application, which should indicate your suitability for the fellowship and your readiness to present yourself as an emerging professional.
Your application should contain:
- Letter of application addressed to the Director, including confirmation of permission to be in the UK and stating clearly that you wish to apply for a Collaborative Piano Fellowship
- Curriculum vitae and biography of c200 words
- Proposal for a programme of personal study
- A budget outline
- Please submit your recording by providing a link to a YouTube video
Submitting your portfolio
You should submit your portfolio online using a single combined PDF through the RCM submission portal. The information you upload to the portal does not constitute your entire application, but does form an integral part of it. You should ensure you have provided everything that is required. Incomplete applications may not be considered.
When using the submission portal you will be asked to create a user name and password, and to provide an email address. You should select 'junior fellow' from the list of programmes and the appropriate principal study instrument. There are no restrictions to the file size or type.
If you experience any problems uploading your portfolio please contact Lizzie Sambrook.
Assistant to the Artistic Director and Events & Fellows Coordinator
020 7591 4370
If you are selected for the second stage, you should be prepared to discuss your application in further detail at interview. You are advised to keep a copy of whatever you submit.
Shortlisting and interviews
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend a sight-reading collaborative piano audition and an interview with the Director and the Head of Keyboard.
Interviews will be held on Wednesday 20 March 2024.
Should you be invited to interview, you will be required to bring original documentation (visa, passport or leave to remain in the UK) confirming that you have permission to be in the UK.
In your interview you will be required to:
- Meet and talk with a panel
- Discuss the contents of your portfolio and your achievements to date
- Expand on any of the information in your portfolio in light of developments since applying
- Discuss experience and career plans and suggest ways in which you would like to contribute to the work of the RCM
You will be asked to sight read two pieces, lasting in total no more than fifteen minutes’ playing time. In one of the pieces you will be accompanying a soloist. You will be given a copy of the music and will have access to a practice room to rehearse this for 20 minutes before the audition. You will then perform the piece with a soloist who will be provided by the College, and who will be familiar with the work. The second piece will be completely unseen and will be given to you during the audition
Results will be conveyed as soon as possible after the interviews have taken place.
Interviews will be held at the Royal College of Music in London.
Conditions for successful applicants
As a Fellow you will be expected to:
- Include reference to the award in your CV and in any biographical notes accompanying appearances
- Produce a short written report on activities undertaken to date by the end of each term
- Keep trustees and sponsors informed on a regular basis of opportunities to attend performances or events in which you are involved
- As for all those associated with the College, to adhere to and uphold the College’s values and policies as detailed on our strategies and values pages
The RCM’s internal awards and competition funds are not available to Lord & Lady Lurgan Collaborative Piano Fellows. It is possible to take part in competitions as an accompanist or an ensemble member, but fellows may not receive any prize money, which is only awarded to registered students. This restriction includes concerto competitions as soloist. RCM awards and Access Funds are similarly unavailable.
Fellows are encouraged to support other students, particularly as accompanists, but may not perform as soloists in any of the regular chamber concerts. As part of the terms of the Fellowship, there are various special events, within the RCM and outside, in which Fellows are expected to take part, without additional payment.