A 2012 scholarship, offered by The Trust Company, is promising three young male opera singers life-changing opportunities to travel and pursue their careers abroad.   

Morgan Pearse was 18 years-old and fresh out of high school when he first began studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Wanting to pursue a career in opera but finding opportunities to advance his skills in Australia a bit limited, it wasn't until 2010 that he saw a newspaper advertisement for the Sir Robert William Askin Operatic Scholarship offered by The Trust Company.

With a little nudge of encouragement from his  mother, Morgan went ahead and applied for the scholarship, treating the application process as an exercise in focusing where he wanted to be in the next few years and requesting for someone to support him to reach his goal.

“Luckily for me it actually came through, which was the biggest suprise, it was wonderful!”, says Morgan, who was awarded the $20,000 scholarship shortly afterwards, allowing him to head overseas to the UK and pursue his passion of opera with aspirations of one day making it a career. 

The scholarship which is available again in 2012 will offer three ambitious Australian opera singers aged 17-29 with the financial support they need to further their cultural education nationally and abroad.

Initially created by Lady Mollie Askin in 1982  for the “furtherance of culture and advancement of education in Australia and elsewhere” by supporting male operatic singers with “outstanding ability and promise”, the scholarship was named after her husband, Sir Robert Askin, whose 10-year run in office as NSW's 32nd premier (1965-1975) included the opening of the Sydney Opera House.

The Trust Company, which is currently the trustee for over 50 different scholarships and awards including the Sir Robert William Askin Operatic scholarship, has continued the Askin's legacy by  distributing $170,000 amongst ten young Australians to help them launch their careers in opera.

“Opera plays an important role in the creative arts in the way it draws singers, musicians, drama, costume and design together in theatrical form,” explains Simon Lewis, Head of Philanthropy and Community at The Trust Company.  “Australians are extremely privileged to have such a developed opera tradition, crowned by the fact that our most famous building is called the Sydney Opera House”.

According to Simon the scholarship specifically aims to assist aspiring opera artists who may not have the resources or finances to travel abroad or relocate to a larger city from regional Australia.

“$20,000 is a significant sum over two years which will enable young Australian’s to take the next step in their careers to challenge themselves and travel away from home to continue to build on their career”, he says.

Previous scholarship recipients have gone on to perform in some of the world's most famous venues  including Royal Albert Hall and the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory as well as studying at  reknown institutions, such as Guilhall School of Music and Drama's award-winning opera department.

For Morgan the scholarship has allowed him to travel to the UK where he is currently the first Joan Sutherland Scholar at the Royal College of Music – arguably one of the world's greatest music schools and a leading opera institution. With aspirations of one day creating his own opera pieces, the 24-year old currently studies in a competitive yet supportive environment alongside some of the biggest names in opera such as Russell Smythe, one of Britain's most experienced and accomplished baritones who has performed at some of the most important opera houses around the world.        

Morgan says that what inspired him to take this venture in pursuing a career in opera is that it's an art form superior to any other.

“There is something magical about the fact that one voice, one person can sing above a three hundred-strong orchestra at the back of a theatre that can seat two thousand people and can still be heard, can still be understood”, he says. “There is something spectacular about opera: it can be large, it can be small, it can be happy, it can be sad…the breadth of emotion that can be displayed on an opera stage, when done well, can trump any other artistic art form”.

Now back in Australia and preparing for a tour with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in Monterverdi's L'Orfeo, Morgan says that though his scholarship experience was initially intimidating, the opportunities it provided were incredibly rewarding.

“It was absolutely the most scary thing that I've ever done: leaving my home, leaving my family,” explains Morgan. “But I wouldn't change it for anything. It's been wonderful. It's really opened my eyes. I can make a career in opera a reality”. 

To apply for this amazing opportunity visit http://www.thetrustcompany.com.au/philanthropy/awards/sir_robert_askin.asp    

Applicants must be Australian male citizens aged 17-29 years at the closing date of entries, on September 24th.

Finalists will be required to perform before a panel of judges in Sydney in November, which will determine the three finalists who will be awarded the $20,000 scholarship. The scholarship recipients will receive the award money in $5,000 installments over two years.    

For more information contact Christina Piazza, The Scholarships and Awards Coordinator on    1800 622 812 or [email protected]

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