Ruth West

Ruth West

Scholarship supporters Ruth West and her husband Michael share a life-long interest in music and have supported five RCM musicians over the past few years. Upbeat caught up with Ruth as she visited the RCM for a scholarship reception.

Has music always been important to you?

My father was very musical and there was a lot of music at home when I was growing up. I have fond memories of singing around the piano on a Sunday evening. I've always loved ballet and opera, and remember being very excited as a young girl when Sadler's Wells came to Belfast. I went for music lessons with an eccentric teacher, who unfortunately never managed to teach me the piano, but she did teach me how to listen to music. So that's how it all began.

My husband, Michael, is not from a musical background but when we came over from Ireland to live in Birmingham we enjoyed going to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to see plays and operas. Then we lived in Germany for a few years before moving to London in 1985, when we began to go to the Royal Opera House.

How did you first hear about the RCM?

We'd supported the RSPCC for many years, but I was looking to find a way of doing something a bit more personal for young people. As I've always enjoyed music, supporting young musicians seemed the perfect idea. The thing that attracted me most to the RCM was the sense of enthusiasm; I was immediately engaged by what the RCM was doing.

Who have you supported so far?

As I love opera so much I was particularly keen to support a singer. But actually my first student was José Antonio Domené, a harpist. He really loved studying at the RCM and was always very good about keeping in touch. He's now a professor in Spain and also occasionally plays for the opera house in Barcelona. José's father, who had been a promising singer, became a nurse because he didn't have the funds to support his own musical training. So it was lovely to be able to support his son in this way.

Who else have you supported?

Since then I've supported a countertenor called Rupert Enticknap. He's now gone on to great things in Vienna. In fact, he wrote to me recently to tell me he had to step-up last minute to the title role in Handel's Radamisto at the Theater an der Wien. 

And what about your husband, Michael?

My husband supports two saxophonists. It came about in a rather funny way actually, Michael half-jokingly said to Professor Colin Lawson: “I don't suppose you accept saxophonists here at the RCM?” And he said, “Oh yes we do!” And so at the moment he supports two terrific performers from South Africa and Slovakia. We met them both at a marvellous Big Band concert in February.

So altogether we've supported five students over the past few years. You become very interested in your students and you really want them to do well. We're now in a position to put back something and it's lovely to give people a chance who might not otherwise have it.

Are you looking forward to coming to the scholars’ reception tonight

Yes, and it's the first time that we'll meet our current student Tai Oney, who is a countertenor studying at the . I'm so excited to meet him. It's lovely to meet the personality behind the talent.

What would you say to someone who's thinking about supporting the arts?

You meet some very interesting people. It opens up new interests too. I didn't know very much about the harp at all before meeting José, but I became very interested in the instrument as a result.

I think it's also the welcome you get here, the RCM is a lovey place to have a relationship with. I'm not very knowledgeable about music, but no-one makes you feel out of place. It's just wonderful to be able to give young musicians the chance to succeed.

 

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Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS. Tel: +44(0)20 7591 4300 Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS.
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