Cellist Lavinnia Rae is one of three recipients of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Arts Excellence Awards for the Wellington region, receiving $5000 towards her future studies.
Moving to Wellington from Christchurch to study classical performance at the New Zealand School of Music at the age of 16, Lavinnia's parents moved to Kāpiti to support her.
In 2016, Lavinnia performed as a soloist with the Kāpiti Concert Orchestra, playing Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B minor.
Lavinnia is now in her second year of a MPerf (Master of Performance) in Orchestral Artistry in association with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Studying under Rebecca Gilliver, the principal cello of the LSO, Lavinnia is using the money from the foundation to fund this education, along with receiving lessons from the entire LSO cello section through the specialist orchestral course.
"The funds from the foundation will be going towards tuition costs for my final year of masters at the Guildhall School, and I am incredibly grateful and honoured that my achievements and passion for becoming a professional orchestral cellist have been recognised by the foundation."
With both her sisters learning the violin, Lavinnia began playing the cello aged 5 when her parents decided to pair her with a cello because she was taller than her sisters when they were the same age.
Thriving off the sense of community playing in an orchestra gives her, Lavinnia's first programme, playing Tchaikovsky's Symphony No.5 with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra, was the moment when she knew she wanted to pursue a professional career as an orchestral cellist.
"I enjoy orchestral playing the most, and thrive off the sense of community and commitment of musicians coming together to collectively play their best whilst serving the music well in performance.
"My future goal is to be a professional orchestral cellist, and by completing the Orchestral Artistry course it will put myself at an advantage for the auditions I will soon be taking.
"I intend to audition for the professional orchestras within the United Kingdom as the standard of orchestras are of such a high level, as well as for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra once there is an available cello position.
"Although I am orchestral focused, I am also a keen chamber musician and am the cellist in a piano trio with fellow New Zealand pianist Siyu Sun."
Working as a freelancer with the NZSO has been a highlight of Lavinnia's career so far, along with graduating with a Master of Performance with distinction at the Royal College of Music, London, where she previously studied with Richard Lester from 2018-20.
"After working with the NZSO I felt confident that I was following the right path for myself and even more committed and motivated to achieving my dream goal."
Violinist Claudia Tarrant-Matthews and composer Reuben Jelleyman were the other recipients of the foundation's Arts Excellence Awards.
Dame Malvina Major Foundation Wellington committee chairman George Troup said it was a great pleasure for the committee to be able to alleviate some of the financial pressure these talented young performing artists face in achieving their goals.
"We offer our warmest congratulations to Lavinnia, Claudia and Reuben and wish them every success in the development of their careers.
"We will continue to follow their progress with great interest."