Graduates gather at Alumni Festival

Esther Abrami

Conservatoire graduates gathered at the Celebration Event of BCU’s first Alumni Festival yesterday (Thursday 14 September) at the University’s Parkside Building.

Esther Abrami, Samantha Oxborough and Shona Brownlee are among 25 graduates who have featured in this year’s Alumni Festival Exhibition, and were guests of honour at the Celebration Event, the culmination of the festival.

Esther also performed during the evening, previewing several pieces from her new album ‘Cinema’, which is released next week. Esther is a classical musician signed to Sony, and has a strong social media following thanks to her commitment to transform the way we listen and view classical music.

Ahead of her performance, Esther said: “I can’t wait to perform some of the pieces from my new album. To perform, and see my pictures and videos featured in the exhibition feels great. It’s so nice to be part of a University that’s keeping in touch with its alumni, and even more, showing so much support for what they do. It feels wonderful.”

Guests included fellow BCU alumnus and Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Chaman Lal, alongside Lady Mayoress Vidya Wati, who enjoyed the exhibition, a performance from BCU graduate and former Birmingham Poet Laureate, Casey Bailey, and a City Talk from School of Art alumnus and designer of the iconic Renault Twingo Patrick le Quément.

“The best Conservatoire in the UK”

Graduates Sam and Shona were also on hand to offer advice to new students just starting out on their RBC journeys.

Sam, who graduated with an MMus in Vocal Studies and went on to perform the National Anthem to millions at the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, said: “You have begun your journey at the best Conservatoire in the UK. Take every opportunity that comes at you, never say, ‘no’. You are surrounded by incredible musicians and amazing tutors.

“Be yourselves, there’s no point trying to be anyone else. Be strong in your decisions, look at the future and think about your goals.

“It feels nice to be back at RBC, and around fellow alumni. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to people who have also graduated from BCU in different subjects, and find out a little bit about what they’ve been up to. I didn’t know anyone here, but I feel like I’ve found friends already.”

Dealing with setbacks

Shona studied Music at the Conservatoire, graduating in 2002, but has been on a very different journey since. She joined the Royal Air Force’s Central Band, but has most recently been excelling as part of Team GB’s Paralympics squad, as a Para Alpine Skier.

She said: “Take all the opportunities you can while you’re at University, because you never know where they might lead.

“Also, don’t be put off by setbacks. When I was injured, I thought my life and my career were over, but it’s taken me down a completely different path that I never expected, so, just take every opportunity and see where it takes you.”

Don’t miss the exhibition

The exhibition also featured graduate Nicola Coughlan, star of TV shows Bridgerton and Derry Girls, who graduated from the School of Acting in 2011.

The Alumni Festival Exhibition continues throughout September and is open to the public in Parkside Building. Find out more.

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