Scholarship winners

NSW Drs Orchestra Sydney Eisteddfod

Instrumental Scholarship Final (16 – 25 years)

The NSW Doctors Orchestra’s Instrumental Scholarship is a major highlight of the Sydney Eisteddfod program. It attracts the finest talent from Australia, and since beginning in 2006, just under 350 aspiring instrumentalists have performed on its stages. Investing in the arts is always worthwhile, and over the past eight years, this scholarship has contributed some $75,000 to the cultural capital of the nation by making it possible for eight outstanding young musicians to study abroad. 

Earlier winners are now pursuing musical careers, while all the more recent ones are doing brilliantly in their studies. In 2010, flautist Rosie Gallagher won the scholarship on the eve of her departure for the Juilliard School in New York. The 2011 winner violinist Emily Sun is now engrossed in her studies at the Royal College of Music in London.  Brilliant classical guitarist Andrey Lebedev, who won in 2012, is another thankful recipient, while the 2013 winner, violinist Anna Da Silva Chen, is now preparing to follow her dream in the United States.  All winners enthusiastically acknowledge the value of this scholarship.

These success stories all stem from the fortuitous partnership Sydney Eisteddfod formed through NSW Doctors Orchestra’s founder and Manager Dr Cathy Fraser in 2009.

Winner 2015: Lily Higson-Spence (Violin)


The standard of playing in the final of the 2015 Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Drs Orchestra Scholarship at the Sydney Conservatorium on August 21 strongly suggested the future of classical music in Australia is in good hands. Open to instrumentalists in the 16-to-25 age group, this $8,000 scholarship is now in its 10th year. Originally offered under the Nelson Meers Foundation banner, it has been generously sponsored by the NSW Drs Orchestra since 2010 and previous winners are either already making careers in music or excelling in studies abroad.

The six finalists all performed superbly, and although three cellists featured in the final, Johanna Blake, Vincent Lo and Francis Yoon, all performed works by different composers. There were no repeats, flautist Chloe Chung, violinist Lily Higson-Spence and classical guitarist Ciaran Edwards-McKeown who completed the final line-up provided contrast in a program the audience thoroughly enjoyed.

The six finalists all performed superbly, and genuinely impressed by their performance, adjudicators Christina Leonard and Dr Andrew Kennedy were  adamant all were worthy of the prize.  They regretted there could be only one winner, but at the end of the night, it was the youngest finalist Lily Higson-Spence who went home with scholarship.

Accompanied by her mother Lana Higson, who won the City of Sydney Eisteddfod Piano Scholarship in 1992, Lily scored her victory playing Debussy’s Sonata for Violin & Piano i. Allegro vivo, Nocturne by Australian composer Margaret Sutherland and Ravel’s evocative Tzigane. Lily, who studies with Robin Wilson, is now preparing to compete in the 2015 final of the ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year Awards.

Winner 2014: Wendy Kong (Violin)


A dream came true for 18-year-old violinist Wendy Kong when she was named winner of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Drs Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship for 2014 on August 17.

Wendy, who began playing the violin at the age of six, is no stranger to the Sydney Eisteddfod platform. She bowed into the competition in 2007 and immediately established herself as a rising talent by winning the Violin Solo (12/u). The following year, she confirmed her promise by finishing third in the Violin Solo (25/u), and since then she has won numerous awards, not only at Sydney Eisteddfod, but also in other competitions.

Wendy now has her heart set on furthering her studies in the United States, and applauding her recent victory, Sydney Eisteddfod wishes her every success as she continues her journey in the world of music.

The Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Drs Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship was broadcast on Fine Music 102.5 FM on October 1, 2014.

Winner 2013: Anna Da Silva Chen (Violin)


Winner 2012: Andrey Lebedev (Guitar)


Winner 2011: Emily Sun (Violin)


Winner 2010: Rosie Gallagher (Flute)