TWO Canberra music identities were among the 112 Australians awarded Churchill Fellowships, it was announced today (September 28).
Conductor Leonard Weiss has been awarded the Mr and Mrs Gerald Frank New Churchill Fellowship to assist and observe renowned conductors with leading orchestras in the US and Austria.
Kristin Berardi, former vocal teacher at the ANU School of Music and now working in Queensland, has also won a Mr and Mrs Gerald Frank New Churchill Fellowship to study in the US, Germany and Austria.
Formerly conductor for the National Capital Orchestra, Canberra Youth Orchestra, the Qwire, the ANU Choral Society, Canberra Choral Society, the Canberra Sinfonia, Musica da Camera, the Maruki Community Orchestra, Dramatic Productions and ensembles from Canberra Grammar School, where he taught, Weiss was accepted into the famous Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and took off during winter last year to study for a two-year master’s under conductor Marin Alsop.
In February this year he made his opera debut conducting a full production before a packed house at Peabody of a new work, Kaija Saariaho’s “Émilie”, then conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in a masterclass with Gianandrea Noseda and conducted the world premiere of a colleague’s new piece “The Moon”.
His plan was to make a quick working visit back home in the middle of this year, but with the advent of COVID-19, he took a year off and has returned to Australia for now.
“It really feels like the right decision,” Weiss told “CityNews” this afternoon.
“I got out of quarantine a few weeks ago and am enjoying settling into Canberra, then travelling between here and Sydney as things start up again.
“Canberra is beautiful at the moment, and most of all I can feel safe while being outside my house.”
Although Weiss declare himself “humbled” to have been selected for a Churchill Fellowship, he admits, “international conditions are a bit uncertain at the moment,” so he probably won’t be travelling any time soon.