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Chichon to be made a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music

DRP dirigent Karel Mark Chichon Photograpy: Marco Borggreve

Gibraltarian conductor Maestro Karel Chichon has been made a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. Under the Academy’s Royal Charter of 1830, the Fellowship is only awarded to those musicians who have distinguished themselves within the profession or have rendered distinguished service to the institution. Other recipients of the FRAM include Sir Henry Wood, Dame Felicity Lott and Sir Simon Rattle.
Maestro Chichon is currently conducting Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and made his debut with the Metropolitan earlier this month. He is one of 20 conductors from around the world to have been selected to work with the opera house.
“This is a very special month for me,” he said from New York.
His Metropolitan Opera debut was something that was planned carefully for four patient years, he says.
“It is already my season highlight, but to receive news that the Royal Academy of Music, which in my younger years seemed an unattainable place to study in, has seen it fit to recognise my career achievements is something that fills me with pride.”
Maestro recalls how he left Gibraltar at the age of 17 to study at an Academy which has always been the first-choice music conservatoire for the elite music students of the world.
“I did so coming from a Gibraltar which in those times was very limited in musical terms - I never heard a symphony orchestra live until I arrived in London and I was shocked to learn that all my fellow Academy students had been immersed in the symphonic and operatic world since the age of 10 or earlier.
“It was a tremendous mountain to climb because I was very much behind what the formation and culture of a classical musician in an elite music school should be. But the Academy made it easy for all of us, because second-best was not part of the curriculum. The fact is the Academy set the bar so high that those uncompromising standards have been my reference to this very day.”
Maestro Chichon has dedicated his award to his father Harry Chichon, who sadly died recently and was not able to witness his sons success.
“He has not witnessed all the many wonderful things that have happened to me recently and which I know would have filled him with great pride and joy. He made many sacrifices in his life so I could further my career and I will always be grateful for the values and upbringing he gave me,” he says.
The Governing Body of the Royal Academy of Music in London, one of the elite music conservatoires in the world, elected Gibraltarian conductor Karel Mark Chichon and he will receive this honour from Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester on 12 July in London.
John Suchet, the Academy’s Orator, will read the citation for Karel during the ceremony.
Karel continues in New York until April where he is enjoying a critically acclaimed run of performances of Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In so doing he becomes the only Gibraltarian to have ever performed at this prestigious opera house and continues to act as an ambassador of Gibraltar at the highest musical level.

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