“Utterly thrilled and full of gratitude!”

Thanks to the generous support of members and friends, the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation has been able to endow two scholarships at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) in Toronto: the Kenneth G. Mills Scholarship and (with the Forsyth family) the Dianne Forsyth Vocal Scholarship.

The RCM recently announced the 2020–2021 recipients: Bryan Valderrama Vega (bassoon) and Yiting (Annie) Da (soprano), respectively. These young artists have both written to the Foundation to express their gratitude.

Bryan Valderrama Vega: “I was utterly thrilled and full of gratitude when I learned about your immense generosity and support to the artistic development of young musicians through The Kenneth G. Mills Scholarship, of which I am recipient. . . . I was born and raised in Costa Rica, where I started my training as bassoonist about ten years ago. I did my undergraduate studies there, where I had the honor to perform with some of my country’s most important ensembles, including the National Symphony Orchestra; and then, I had the opportunity to study for two years in United States. Now, I am in my second year of the Artist Diploma Program at The Glenn Gould School, and I cannot overstate how grateful I feel every day for having the opportunity of studying here. My first year of studies meant a continuous growth both as a musician and as a person, inspired by the great people that conform the faculty. . . . Thanks to this scholarship, I am able to be part of a music program like very few anywhere else, and this is something for which I could not be more thankful.”

Annie Da: “The feeling of honor and excitement surged in my heart when I learned that I am this year’s recipient of the Dianne Forsyth Vocal Scholarship. I am absolutely grateful for your kind support. . . . I am currently in my first year of Bachelor of Music, Performance (Honours) in voice, training primarily under the guidance of Stephanie Bogle. Hangzhou, a beautiful city in China with historical breath and modern rush is where I grew up, and where my musical seed was planted. . . .  When I was in China for my primary years’ studies, I sang in choirs; played traditional Chinese instruments: dulcimer and Chinese drums in school’s band; acted in the school musical. . . . Afterward, I came to Canada by myself, had middle school and high school education in this beautiful country from the age of 12, where I continued to enjoy practicing music, seizing all the opportunities possible. . . . I have been writing songs using MIDI in both pop and classical styles. My cultural backgrounds also let me explore creative methods of making music in mixed-genres. . . . I hope to pursue a career as a professional opera singer, who can transcend time to preserve art and human stories. . . . Your gift . . .  allows me to practice art – the true humanities’ treasure, that I hope to give back to the world in the future.

“The great tradition of patronage has kept alive the spark of creative genius and beauty throughout the ages and will carry it on into an effulgent tomorrow, bearing wisdom, wonder, and power.”

– Kenneth G. Mills


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