This year's Barbara Thornton Memorial Scholarship has been awarded by EMA to mezzo-soprano and scholar Isabella Shaw. The jury, unanimous in its decision, was impressed with her background, the clarity of her proposal, her motivation and focus in her chosen field, and the depth of her commitment to medieval music performance.
Isabella, originally from Denver CO, had already set her sights on study in Europe at an early age; following studies at Trinity College of Music (London) she has recently completed a course of study at Cambridge University (UK), where her special areas of interest were medieval and early modern literature (including Chaucer, Gower and Dante, but also 12th century female mystics (English and Continental). Her passion for medieval languages has brought her into contact with Latin, Occitan, Old French, Italian and medieval English. In addition to the practical study of medieval musical notation, she has been active as a performer, singing in a variety of ensembles in both the UK and in the Czech Republic. Besides singing she has studied viol and recently started to study Gothic harp; she is drawn to the rhetorical challenges facing every singer, studies dance, and writes poetry. Following her graduation this summer, Isabella plans to travel on the continent to audition for various advanced medieval-music performance programs in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland. This award will assist her in making the transition from undergraduate life to the kind of specialized study she hopes to pursue, and very much in the spirit of Barbara Thornton (who was undergoing a similar transformation exactly 40 years ago) she will surely make new connections, find new colleagues & teachers, and gain access to the techniques and resources which will serve her well during that transition. We will certainly be hearing more from Isabella Shaw in the years to come, and wish to congratulate her on this well-deserved award.