ABRSM has supported and sponsored the biennial Overseas Masters Winter Piano Academy (OMWPA) since 2014, a week-long residential course for young pianists from across South East Asia.The course, at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, offers participants a programme of individual piano lessons, group classes and lectures, as well as a 'London' experience with visits to famous museums and music shops, and tickets for concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall.OMWPA was founded by Malaysian pianist and former ABRSM scholar Bobby Chen in 2010, who was a full-time boarder at the Menuhin School and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Bobby reflected: “I never forgot my roots in the hope that some doors would be opened for the wonderful young talents in South East Asia. I have been really encouraged by the amazing support from all the teachers and parents!”Bobby invited me to attend a day of classes this year and it was a fantastic experience. There were lessons dedicated to technique, keyboard harmony and composition, each bespoke to different age groups.Malaysian student Alyssa praised OMWPA as having "elevated my musical knowledge to a more holistic appreciation of the world of music". Singapore student Nicole said: "The professors were all very helpful and I found my playing has improved. More importantly, I have learnt not only to master my instrument better but I have also learnt that music is a lot more than playing my piano pieces well.”Malcolm Singer returned to the school to work with the OMWPA students and commented: "What a joy it was to work with such enthusiastic young musicians from South East Asia at the Yehudi Menuhin School in December. Their eagerness and enthusiasm were an inspiration and we all had a most stimulating time, delving into the wonders of keyboard harmony. It was a delight to have James Welburn from ABRSM observing some of this work.”OMWPA is also a brilliant opportunity for pianists to develop their performance skills. They're invited to perform at the gala concert at the end of the course in front of parents, teachers and fellow students, on a full-size grand piano in the Menuhin Hall. Performance opportunities for pianists are so important and yet are often harder to come by than for other instruments, and so it's a real strength of OMWPA’s course and one that we support at ABRSM.
For more information, visit omwpa.com.