Meet some of the musicians who have studied our Advanced Postgraduate Diploma (Professional Performance) in the past...

Chuen-An Chern

Chuen-An Chern was born in Taiwan and began to learn the piano at the age of four. She was awarded her Bachelor degree from Tainan National University of the Arts in 2008.

During her studies in Taiwan, Chuen-An took part in competitions and won many prizes. In 2004, she was the 1st prize-winner at the Taiwan National Music Competition.

In 2005, she won the 2nd prize at the Second Taiwan International Music Festival Piano Competition and the 1st prize for piano quintet at the Boston Piano Chamber Music Competition. In the same year, she was invited to perform a piano quintet at the Taiwan International Music Festival. In 2006, she gave a recital at the Taipei Forum Music Concert Hall and was interviewed by Tainan public television.

In 2011 Chuen-An gained her Master of Music at Birmingham Conservatoire and is now studying for the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma with Professor Malcolm Wilson, Philip Martin and David Quigley. She recently won the Renna Kellaway Piano Recital Prize, the Birmingham Conservatoire Piano Prize, the 3rd prize at the Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Prize, the 2nd prize at the Second Sheepdrove Piano Competition, and the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal.

In March 2011 she played Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1 with Sutton Coldfield Orchestra. Chuen-An has also participated in Masterclasses with Douglas Humpherys, Boris Slutsky, Jennifer Lim, Meng-Chieh Liu, Victor Rosenbaum, Elena Saweljewa, Vladimir Tropp, Peter Donohoe, Mikhail Kazakevich, Andrew Ball, Mark Bebbington, Julian Jacobson, Steven Osborne, Gordon Fergus-Thompson, Katya Apekisheva, Martino Tirimo, Gustav Fenyo and Graham Caskie.

Nafis Umerkulova

Born in Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Nafis Umerkulova started piano at the age of five and commenced her musical studies in the Uspensky Specialist Music School when she was six. Only two years later Nafis made her debut as a soloist after becoming a 2nd prize-winner at the Republican Piano Competition in Tashkent.

This was followed by a Diploma and a special prize award at the International B. Dvarionas Piano Competition in Vilnius, Lithuania and the 1st prize at the Internatitional N. Rubinstein Piano Competition in Paris.

In 2004 Nafis was awarded a full scholarship to continue her musical education in the UK at the Purcell School of Music with William Fong. Soon after becoming a prize-winner of the Purcell School’s annual Concerto Competition she performed the Grieg Piano Concerto with. Nafis continued her musical career in London, where she was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with William Fong and Tatiana Sarkissova. In 2008 she won the Edith Steinitz award.

Nafis participated in masterclasses with Dmitriy Bashkirov, Mikhail Olenev, Lev Natochenny, Pascal Devoyon, Pascal Roge, Steven Osborne, Stephen Kovacevich, Andrei Gavrilov and many others. Her numerous performances in the UK include solo and chamber music recitals at Wigmore Hall, Drapers Hall, Purcell Room, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Winchester Cathedral, Glasgow City Halls, Manchester Bridgewater Hall.

In 2012 Nafis graduated from the Masters degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she was receiving a full scholarship to study with Aaron Shorr. During her studies there she won the prestigious RCS Concerto Competition, Bamber–Galloway and Webster Prize piano competitions and has performed Prokofiev’s 1st Piano Concerto in Glasgow City Halls under baton of Christian Kluxen.

She has also recorded Schubert’s Sonata D958 for a Schubert documentary by BBC 2. While in Scotland, she won the 3rd prize at the International BRANT Piano Competition in Birmingham and did a concert tour in Slovenia playing in a duo with a cellist Katarina Majcen following the invitation from “Glasbene mladine Slovenije”.This tour featured an evening recital at the Philarharmonia Hall in Ljubljana that was broadcasted on Slovenian radio and television. Recently, Nafis has successfully completed the Advanced Independent Study programme at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire, studying with Deniz Gelenbe. Since 2013 she became a recipient of numerous scholarships including Arthur Haynes Scholarships, and the Myra Hess award generated by Help Musicians UK.

Since September 2015, Nafis has pursued the Advanced Performance Diploma course at Birmingham Conservatoire and was awarded a scholarship for her studies by the Denis Matthews Memorial Trust. Nafis is deeply grateful to Fagus Anstruther Memorial Fund and Help Musicians UK for their support and interest in her career.

Magdalena Wajdzik

Magdalena Wajdzik was born in Wroclaw, Poland on 13th of March 1985. She started playing the piano at the age of 7 at the A. Rubinstein Primary Music School in Bydgoszcz.

During this period she took part in the Chopin National Competition for Young Pianists in Szafarnia, Poland. In 2004, she started her higher musical education at the F. Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz under Professor Maria Murawska. While studying there she participated in several Masterclasses with famous Polish pianists, inter alia, Andrzej Wodnicki.

In 2007 she took part in 7th National Competition of Contemporary Music For Young Performers in Radziejowice/Warsaw in Poland, in which she was the only pianist chosen to perform in the Final Stage.

After three years of studying in Poland, she continued her musical education at Birmingham Conservatoire under Margaret Fingerhut and Professor Malcolm Wilson. Magdalena has participated in several Masterclasses with John Lill, Peter Donohoe, Mikhail Kazakevitch, Andrew Ball, Martin Jones, Orit Wolf and Ashley Wass.

She completed her Bachelor of Music degree in 2009, and gained the Postgraduate Certificate in Piano Performance the following year. She also completed a Master of Arts Degree in Piano Performance on a Polish distance-learning course in December 2010. She is now one of the small band of students on the Conservatoire’s flagship Advanced Postgraduate Diploma course.

Magdalena has been a joint-winner of the Birmingham Conservatoire Piano Prize, and a finalist of the Renna Kellaway Piano Prize; she also received a special prize (runner-up) at the Ambache Prize for the Performance of Music by Women Composers.

Apart from competition prizes, she was also awarded the John Campbell Prize for a Keyboard Player (2008), Marjorie Hazlehurst Piano Award (2009) and the PgCert (Music) Course Prize (2010) for over-all excellence. In August 2010 she was awarded the Third Prize in the XIV International Competition of Contemporary Chamber Music in Crakow, Poland; and in 2011 she won the inaugural Peter Donohoe Prize.

Magdalena is a very creative artist’ both as a soloist and chamber music performer. While her repertoire is wide, she has a particular interest in twentieth-century music, particularly Polish music with folk influences, and is currently principal pianist in the Interrobang group.

Ashok Gupta

After attending Dean Close School, Cheltenham, Ashok went on to study at Clare College, Cambridge, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.

Ashok now pursues a varied musical career as accompanist, repetiteur, organist, fortepianist, harpsichordist, solo pianist and continuo player. He has collaborated with artists such as Dame Ann Murray and Daniel Pailthorpe.

He has worked with English National Opera, Dijon Opera, Dutch National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera and has performed as organist at the BBC Proms, Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey. He has worked with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, the Corelli Ensemble and recently collaborated with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. He has also performed as pianist and organist on several live BBC broadcasts.

As a pianist he has performed in various international festivals and made his debut at Birmingham Symphony Hall in November 2014. In February 2015 he performed the Skryabin Piano Concerto with Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra.

Ashok also maintains a busy career as a continuo player and has recorded a number of times for the Hyperion label, most recently with the Arcangelo ensemble. He is currently studying for an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma at Birmingham Conservatoire and, in November 2015, received the Silver Medal for excellence in performance from the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

In 2016, Ashok will play continuo with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Glyndebourne Festival’s Le nozze di Figaro. Ashok’s teachers are Margaret Fingerhut and Charles Owen.

Yen-Ting Wang

Yen-Ting Wang was born in Taiwan in 1989 and first came to study at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012. She is currently establishing her career as a soloist under the guidance of British pianist, Anthony Hewitt and the Italian, Fabio Bidini, on the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma: Professional Performance course.

Yen-Ting is becoming well-known for her passionate interpretations of Stravinsky, Skryabin and Chopin and alongside her solo career, she is flourishing as an accompanist and chamber musician.

Yen-Ting has performed on multiple stages throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. Festival appearances have included the 2011 Lee University Piano Festival, the 2009 Aspen Music Festival, and the 2009 Eastern Music Festival in the USA.

Yen-Ting received the Denis Matthews Memorial Trust Award in 2012, was awarded the PgCert course prize for the highest mark in 2013, in 2014, she won the Birmingham Conservatoire Piano Prize and was ranked 1st place in the 2014 Renna Kellaway Piano Recital Competition. In 2015 she also gained the Accompanist Prize for The Stuart Cameron Smith French Song Prize.

Yen-Ting has participated regularly in masterclasses by renowned visiting pianists including Peter Donohoe, Idil Biret, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gergely Boganyi, Andrei Gavrilov, Jon Nakamatsu (1997 Van Cliburn Gold Medal Award), Russell Sherman, Mikhail Kazakevich, and Vitaly Berzon.