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Jane Avery, pictured with scholarship recipients Maya de Souza and Firoze Madon

RCM Sparks and scholarships supported by £100,000 donation

Monday 28 November 2022

A £100,000 donation to the Royal College of Music by Jane Avery in memory of her late husband, Robert Avery, establishes a new scholarship and supports the outreach work of RCM Sparks.

The Robert Avery Scholarship will support UK undergraduate students from a non-traditional, migrant or under-represented background. This year’s funding is being matched by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Matching Fund, doubling the impact of the gift.

The first recipients of the Robert Avery Scholarship are violinist Maya de Souza and pianist Firoze Madon, pictured above with Jane Avery.

Jane’s donation will also support the work of RCM Sparks, the College’s learning and participation programme. This term, the fund supported the Springboard Composition Course in composition for screen, which provides invaluable experience for the next generation of young composers for film and television.

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After Robert Avery passed away from Covid-19 in 2020, his wife Jane and their two daughters, Ali and Rachel, who both work in education, wanted to honour the memory of their father.

The gift reflects Robert’s personal history, whose family fled persecution in Europe. Robert’s mother arrived from Poland in 1939, and his maternal grandparents perished during the Holocaust. His father’s family had come to UK in the early 1900s to escape pogroms in current-day Belarus, changing their surname from Awrounin to Avery to be accepted into medical school.

‘Robert was distressed by the increasingly xenophobic discourse of politicians and the right-wing media. The scholarship supporting students from migrant and under-represented backgrounds is in recognition of the fact that both of Robert’s parents had found sanctuary in the UK,’ explains Jane.

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Music has always been important to the Avery family. After working for the Anglo-Austrian Society for a number of years, in 1989 Robert and Jane founded Habsburg Heritage, a travel company which specialised in musical events in central Europe, Italy and Switzerland.

The company organised trips across the continent, including to the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, to which Robert was a special adviser.

‘Robert was someone who got enormous pleasure from sharing his enthusiasms, particularly with young people,’ says Jane.

‘The family also decided to support the RCM Sparks programmes as Robert felt passionately that the young should be encouraged in and have access to the arts. He loved supporting young people’s exploration of the arts.’

After establishing the fund, Jane has also spread the word and encouraged friends to donate, raising an additional £7,000.

To make a donation towards the Robert Avery Fund, or to find out about other giving opportunities, please contact Eleonore de Sibert, Head of Development, on eleonore.desibert@rcm.ac.uk.