Mollie Wrafter, who comes from near Tullamore, County Offaly, has just completed her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) under the tutelage of Leland Chen. She graduated with a first class honours Batchelor of Music degree.
Prior to arriving at RNCM, Mollie studied with Oonagh Keogh and her mother Dr. Geraldine O’Grady. She has been a prize winner at Feis Ceoil, and has performed regularly with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland.
Since beginning her studies at RNCM, Mollie has been awarded the Irish Heritage Bursary for Performance for 2019/2020 and has won the Norman George Violin Competition. She has participated in masterclasses with Ning Feng and Mauricio Fuks. Mollie performs regularly in venues throughout Ireland and the UK, including the Wigmore Hall and the National Concert Hall.
Living in Manchester, Mollie prioritises the connection with her Irish heritage. She collaborates with musicians from Wales, Scotland and England to perform native music with a contemporary twist. Mollie also curates chamber concerts which celebrate the music of female Irish composers.
Through the support of the Wolfston Foundation, Mollie plays a copy of the 'Lord Wilton' Guarneri del Gesù crafted for her by Glen Collins in 2018.
Report from Irish Heritage 2019 Music Bursary for Performance Recipient Mollie Wrafter
I would like to begin by expressing my utmost gratitude to Irish Heritage for the phenomenal generosity and support I have received since winning the Irish Heritage Bursary for Performance in November 2019. I truly believe that my violin playing and performance career have witnessed transformational change that can be directly attested to the financial assistance and encouragement from all at Irish Heritage.
Shortly after receiving the Bursary, I travelled to Madrid to meet with Frederieke Saeijs, a Dutch soloist who has been my mentor since our first meeting at a masterclass in 2019. I enjoyed 3 days of intensive lessons with her that were only possible due to the support of the bursary.
It goes without saying that the world changed irrevocably in early 2020, and sadly many of my plans for the bursary money were unable to proceed. Despite the pandemic restrictions, the bursary has allowed me to continue to study with my main violin teacher, Leland Chen, throughout the last year which has been a lifeline in such a difficult time. These lessons have helped me to bridge the gap between studentship and professional playing.
Furthermore, the bursary, together with a grant from Music Network allowed me to purchase a violin bow crafted by Franz Winkler in 1920 from J.P. Guivier. This bow has helped me to unlock the entire range that my violin has to offer in terms of tone, colour and emotion and will noticeably augment the performance opportunities available to me.
I am very fortunate to be able to spend two weeks this summer at music courses that I had originally intended for the summer of 2020. I have used the Irish Heritage bursary to cover the fees for these courses.
With my quartet, I will go to the Chilingirian Chamber Music course in West Dean which will be an intensive rehearsal and masterclass opportunity to prepare for our upcoming engagements with the acclaimed Kreutzer Quartet with whom we will be recording new music by composer Edward Cowie for the Divine Arts label in the coming months.
With my piano duo partner, I will attend the Cadenza International Summer School for Strings at the Purcell School. At this course, we will be preparing sonatas by Beethoven and Debussy which we will perform at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Lismore in September and in London for Irish Heritage in October.
I am so thankful to Irish Heritage for the opportunities that the bursary has afforded me, which have helped me to develop an exciting career as a professional violinist. I am very hopeful that the bursary can be continued so that many more young musicians can benefit and enrich the community of Irish musicians in the UK.