UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 24 AUGUST 2021
Final-year BMus Cello student Gary Hunt shares his experiences as an international student on the Erasmus Programme at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.
Q. Why did you decide to spend part of your degree at the Academy?
It was important for me to experience conservatoire life outside of the UK for a while. Scandinavia had always fascinated me culturally: specifically musically, hearing of the great reputation the schools hold over there. Copenhagen as a city is incredibly beautiful and I wanted to live in a place that would inspire me, especially creatively. Morten Zeuthen my professor has a great reputation throughout Europe and, therefore, thought I should apply and hope for the best. The atmosphere throughout the Academy was one of determination, passion, friendship and, most of all, just a sense of pure love for the world of classical music.
Q. What was the application process like?
It was very clear and professional. International Coordinator Ruth Wootton made the process smooth, bearing in mind the obstacles created by the pandemic. I found it exciting, and managing my time was important. Having to produce a high level video of my cello playing and creating a strong CV were paramount in being selected to enrol.
Q. What were the highlights of the year at the Academy and how has it made you a better musician?
There were many highlights of this year out. Apart from the musical side of things, it gave me an incredible insight into a different culture. Most importantly, it let me blossom as a cellist and musician, giving me lots of opportunities to perform. I was selected to play alongside Randi Laubek, a distinguished songwriter, to perform her new album, in the recital hall of the Academy. This was one of the best highlights, I would say. The other great highlight was being chamber coached by the Danish String Quartet, most notably the cellist Fredrik Sjölin, who was an absolute pleasure to work with. The whole experience has made me harder working and more open to taking opportunities that may be out of my comfort zone.
Q. What were the challenges you faced as an international student?
Settling in was the main challenge. I try to make myself feel at home as much as possible anywhere I go; however, the Danish social culture was more difficult to navigate than I thought. They are generally more reserved, and this is different to back home in crazy Belfast. Therefore, I had to select my words and phrases a little more carefully. Apart from that, being an international student was an absolute pleasure.
Q. Will other students have the opportunity to study through the Erasmus Programme?
The UK has now left the Erasmus programme, but has established the Turing Scheme in its place. BCU has Erasmus funding until 2023, and students will have the chance to study abroad as part of their RBC course through other schemes.
Q. Does RBC have strong ties with the Academy?
Yes, the Conservatoire has partnered with the Academy since 2014 exchanging many students and staff over the years.
Q. Do you have any plans to return?
I would love to return to Copenhagen, as I have made some lifelong friends and will certainly cross paths in the future, depending on where my musical career takes me.