Composer Rebecca Erin Smith is off to New York to study for a Masters degree after winning The University of Western Australia's prestigious Dr Harold Schenberg Music Prize for Composition.
The late Dr Schenberg was a respected WA dermatologist and renowned art collector and donor, and the prize is part of his bequest to UWA. Dr Schenberg was also an accomplished jazz pianist who played professionally to support himself while studying medicine.
The prize provides $15,000 to a talented WA tertiary student or recent graduate who, through the prize, has the opportunity to further their studies in composition either interstate or overseas.
Rebecca, who lives in Wembley, is an Honours composition student at the WA Academy of Performing Arts. She applied to the Julliard School, the Manhattan School of Music and California Institute of the Arts, and was offered a place at all three.
She was also awarded the Marvin Hamlisch Scholarship in Composition from the Julliard School and the Manhattan School of Music Scholarship in Composition.
"I decided to accept the offer from the Manhattan School of Music due to its strength in support of new contemporary music by both staff and students, as well as its outstanding faculty," Rebecca said.
"Manhattan's master of composition program is designed to go hand-in-hand with its contemporary music performance degree, and students are encouraged to collaborate and participate in a wealth of performance opportunities; something less abundant at other universities."
Rebecca has spent the past eight years honing her craft in WA, gleaning experience from every available source, including film, theatre, dance, installation and concert music. She is currently working on her second commission from WA Youth Orchestras.
"I've reached a point in my education where I feel I have somewhat exhausted these resources but have so much more to learn to fully realise my potential as a composer," she said. "I'm extremely grateful to receive the Schenberg prize which will not only provide financial support but also help me launch a career in collaborative composition."
Rebecca is also the recipient of the Barbara MacLeod scholarship from the WA Academy of Performing Arts and has been shortlisted for a Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship, both of which will help fund her overseas studies.