Zara Benyounes

2009 Julius Isserlis Scholar

Awarded: grant towards study abroad with the Benyounes Quartet

Zara 24, for Bury recently graduated with a PG Dip Distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music where she studied with Professor Maciej Rakowski. A former principal of the National Youth Orchestra and the Halle Youth Orchestra, she was awarded a full scholarship to study as an undergraduate at the RNCM where she received a 1st class honours degree.

Zara has won prizes in the National Youth String Quartet competition, the Kenneth page violin competition and most recently the Russell Sheppard Memorial Scholarship. Whilst at the RNCM, Zara has participated in many master classes with distinguished musicians including Ivry Gitlis, Gordan Nikolitch, and James Ehnes, with Pamela Frank at the 08 IMS Prussia Cove and Gyorgy Pauk during Repton International Master Classes.

Zara is in the early stages of a varied and busy freelance career working with such ensembles as the Manchester Camerata, Opera North, BBC Philharmonic and the Halle Orchestra with whom she has performed in the BBC Proms under sir Mark Elder and toured to Germany, Spain and South America.

The Benyounes Quartet was founded at the RNCM in 2007, the others members of which are Emily Holland, Sara Roberts and Kim Vaughan. After winning the RNCM’s Ravel, Nossek and Weil prizes they were chosen to represent the college in the Gerard Heller Intercollegiate quartet Competition at the Royal Academy of Music, London where they were awarded 2nd Prize. The quartet has appeared at the renowned annual Chamberfest and were privileged to perform for the Duke of Kent in celebration of her time as patron at the RNCM.

This year the quartet has been accepted on to the Paris-based ProQuartet-CEMC program and were invited to perform in the 10th Rencontres musicales ProQuartet de Fontainebleau. Through this program they received coaching from Eberhard Feltz and members of the Alban Berg and Cleveland string quartets. The quartet has also studied under Quatuor Ebène, Thomas Riebl, Chilingirian Quartet and under David Waterman at the IMS Prussia Cove 09. In September they will attend the 33rd International Academy of String Quartets at Britten-Pears with Isabel Charisius and Sebastian Hamman.

The quartet has performed at Lakes District Summer Music Festival, Leek Arts Festival and the BBC Philharmonic Brahms and Schumann Festival and have toured Ireland and the Channel Islands. They have recently been accepted into the class of the world renowned chamber musician Professor Gábor Takács-Nagy at the Haute École de Musique de Genève, where they will commence a two-year masters in Chamber Music. They are extremely grateful for the support of the Martin Musical Scholarship fund, MBF, Countess of Munster, Arts Council of Wales, Bank of Ireland and notably the Julius Isserlis Scholarship which has enabled them to undertake this period of study abroad.

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