2023 Concerto Class Finalists
The 2023 Concerto Class was won by pianist Dida Condria. Biographies of the finalists are below.
2023 Concerto Class Final. Left to right - Vincent Wiguna, conductor; Alexandru Placinta (piano); Dida Condria (piano); Tom Robertson (piano); and Raj Bhaumik (clarinet). Photograph courtesy of John Cowie.
Raj Bhaumik is currently studying with Alison Waller in the Junior Department of RCS and with Timothy Orpen. He has taken part in many concerts there, a highlight being as soloist in Finzi’s clarinet concerto with the Symphony Orchestra. A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for several years, Raj has performed in most of the UK’s major concert halls and also broadcast on radio and television. He has been featured in Radio Scotland's ‘Classics Unwrapped’ and on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ playing chamber music with fellow orchestra members.
He has recently given a successful series of concerts around Scotland, often with other instrumentalists and forming varied chamber music groups. Earlier this year, Raj won First Prize in the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain’s ‘Young Clarinettist Competition’, when he performed a recital in London to a distinguished panel of clarinettists and an enthusiastic audience. This month he will commence a 3-month mentorship programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, attending lessons, rehearsals and performances. In the summer he will return to Edinburgh for performances of Scott McAllister’s ‘Black Dog’ with the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra where the wind tutor is one of his former clarinet teachers, Lawrence Gill. In September, Raj will begin his degree course at the Royal Academy of Music where he has been awarded a full scholarship.
One of the many musicians who noticed Alexandru's blossoming talent was the well-known pianist and professor Eric Heidsieck, who gave a resounding "Bravo" and expressed his admiration for one of his outstanding performances.
Born in Iași, Romania, in 2001, Alexandru started his first piano lesson aged seven, at the College of Art “Octav Băncilă” Iași, where he was taught by professor dr. Roxana Ota. Since 2020 he has been a Bachelor of Music student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland attending the classes of Sinae Lee, Aaron Shorr and Fali Pavri .
Covering a large pallet of styles in his repertoire, Alexandru has won prizes at national and international competitions, including: International Piano Competition “Ville de Gagny” Paris - Grand Prize “Jeunes Talents”, International “Rosario Marciano“ Piano Competition Vienna – Third Prize, First Prize at Malta International Music Competition, organized by Central Academy of Arts, Malta, Ibiza International Piano Competition – Recital in Granada Prize, Transylvanian Piano Competition Brașov – Third Prize, International Music Competitions for Youth “Dinu Lipatti” Roma – First Prize Finalist, Special Prize – Concert with the Orchestra of the Theatre of Opera and Ballet “Oleg Danovski” in Constanta, International Competition – Festival for Young Pianists, Trophy “Frederic Chopin” - International Piano Competition “Frederic Chopin” Bacău. Since 2011 he has taken part annually in the National Olympiad of Music, where he has been a regular prize winner.
He has participated in masterclasses with pianists from all over the world, including Boris Berman (Yale School of Music), Florian Mitrea, William Fong (Purcell School of Music), Anthony Byrne (Royal Irish Academy of Music), Eugene Alcalay (Azusa Pacific University California), Pavlos Yallourakis (Ecole Normale de Musique "Alfred Cortot" Paris), Stefano Miceli (Adelphi University New York), and Daniel Goiți (Academy of Music Gheorghe Dima Cluj-Napoca).
His career has included solo piano performances as well as collaborations with numerous orchestras, including the "Mihai Jora" Philharmonic Orchestra Bacău, the Botosani Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera and Ballet "Oleg Danovski" Orchestra, and chamber music partnerships. His most recent collaboration has been for duo cello-piano recitals and competitions. He has received invitations to perform solo recitals including the Remember Enescu Foundation as part of the George Enescu Festival, has played for various charitable events as part of a national tour for students from Romania and has had invitations to participate in an official recital at the American Embassy in Malta, as well as a performance in a UNESCO Heritage site on the island of Crete. His appearances have included those in Austria, Greece, Italy, Malta, the United Kingdom, Romania, and Spain.
Tom Robertson is 17 years old and was born and brought up in Edinburgh. He is in his final year at the Edinburgh Steiner School and plans to study Medicine. His early piano studies were with Mary McLeod and Steve Grossart and for the past 3 years with Peter Evans. Tom has also been playing cello for the past 2 years, studying with Tim Cais.
This is the first time that Tom has entered the Concerto Competition and only the second time that he has entered any class in the Edinburgh Competition Festival. Last year he played in the 10 minute piano recital and accompanied Sally Tsang in the 10 minute string recital. Tom gained a distinction in Grade 8 piano last year and soon afterwards began work on Rachmaninoff's 1st Piano Concerto, the first movement of which he plays in the Final Concert. Tom is a huge Rachmaninoff fan and hopes eventually to learn all four piano concertos, as well as the Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini.
Tom's hobbies are cooking, baking, and socialising with friends and classmates. He also has recently started composing music, and greatly appreciates the works of Ravel, Stravinsky, and Mahler. Tom’s favourite pianists include: Martha Argerich, Mitsuko Uchida, Yuja Wang, and Valentina Lisitsa.
Tom is particularly grateful to the Edinburgh Steiner School and the Meadows Chamber Orchestra for their help and support in obtaining the orchestral parts for this performance.
A multiple 1st prize winner internationally, 20-year-old Dida Condria has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, National Concert Hall of Ireland, Casa Verdi Milan, Sibiu Filarmonica and Belfast Castle. Originally from Romania, Dida moved to Ireland at the age of 4 and commenced her studies on continuous scholarship at the Royal Irish Academy of Music at the age of 6 with Prof. Reamonn Keary. She gave her national solo debut at 11 years old with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Finghin Collins. An ABRSM Scholar, she is currently in her second year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland studying with Prof. Aaron Shorr.
Dida was a Keyboard Finalist in this year’s BBC Young Musician of the Year and the recipient of the Walter Todds Bursary for the most promising runner-up. Some of her international achievements include winning the Scottish International Youth Piano Competition, the Crescendo International Music Competition in New York and the John Field International Piano Competition.
A recipient of the Dublin Philharmonic Society Prize and three time winner of the Clive Gouldson Award, she has enjoyed taking part in numerous festivals such as Madrid Atempo, the Walled City Music Festival, Dublin Festival of Russian Culture and West Cork Chamber Music Festival. Dida was one of 4 musicians chosen for the Eversheds Sutherland Accelerator Academy and has had the privilege to have masterclasses with pianists such as Stephen Hough, Boris Berman, Paul Lewis, Noriko Ogawa and Simon Trpceski. She is also a RIAM Young Scholar and a member of the renowned William Finlay Programme.
In 2020 Dida was invited to perform as a guest of John O’Conor at the Dublin International Piano Competition’s Christmas Recital, and has also performed on Ireland’s national arts radio station, RTÉ Lyric FM. Dida enjoys performing as a chamber musician and has played in America and the UK with various duos and trios.
Dida with adjudicators Susan Tomes and Fiona McLean-Buechel