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Fulbright for Honours Graduate

Tuesday, 05 May 2020

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WAAPA Honours graduate Michael Lukin hopes that in September he will be able to take up the prestigious 2020 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship he was awarded late last year.

The USA’s flagship foreign exchange scholarship program is one of the most widely recognized international exchange programs in the world.

After receiving offers from all three American universities on his Fulbright shortlist, Michael has chosen to undertake his Masters of Music in conducting at Yale University, renowned as one of the top universities in the United States.

Michael says that although the global coronavirus crisis has put a question mark over when his postgraduate studies will begin, the Fulbright Commission and Yale are still hopeful he will commence at the start of northern hemisphere’s academic year.

He emailed recently: “It is admittedly looking slightly less likely that I’ll be heading to the US in September the way things are going over there, but everyone’s still hoping I will be – not least including myself!”

The 22-year-old musician, who is an accomplished organist and choral singer, majored in conducting and early keyboard performance while at WAAPA in 2019.

Here Michael answers a few questions for Inside WAAPA about his musical life:

IW: You are a talented singer, organist and conductor. Why have you chosen conducting as your main musical focus?

ML: For a variety of reasons… the first is that I regrettably have a repetitive strain injury condition which prevents me from playing keyboard as much as I would like. So, from that point of view, I’m able to put more time and effort into honing my craft as a conductor than I can as a keyboardist.

The second is that in the role of a conductor, there is much more scope educationally to be able to teach the people in front of you or at least open their eyes to a unique interpretation of a piece of music. As a corollary to that, the opportunity to make artistic decisions about music performed by a collective is also very appealing to me.

IW: What are you looking forward to most about studying in America?

ML: I am looking forward to being immersed in a totally new music environment. Working with a completely different group of people is in many ways the ultimate test of a conductor – you quickly find out whether people actually understand your gesture or not! I’m looking forward to being part of a conducting-specific course where I’m able to have podium time in front of multiple readily-formed ensembles each week and to hone my craft. I also relish the opportunity to work with leading experts in the field at an international level.

IW: What did you enjoy most during your time at WAAPA?

ML: I loved the flexibility of the year that I had at WAAPA. I was able to design a course in which I completed a thesis and majored in four different ‘instruments’ throughout the year – conducting, harpsichord, fortepiano, and organ. I am especially grateful to my three mentors Micheál McCarthy, Geoffrey Lancaster and Stewart Smith who made my experience absolutely delightful. WAAPA is very fortunate indeed to have musicians and teachers of such high calibre on faculty. My being at WAAPA during the integration of its new early keyboard collection was an added bonus!

IW: What would you like your future career to look like?

ML: I’m still working on that one… What I can say is that music will always remain an integral part of my life in whatever capacity I end up working.

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