Seventeen-year-old Penelope Boisseau-Hardman is firmly on track to an illustrious future as a professional classical musician with the support of The Bernicia Foundation.

From first picking up the violin at the tender age of six, Penelope has excelled musically.

She auditioned successfully and was accepted into the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) at the age of ten, has been a member of the Young Sinfonia since she was 13 and achieved ABRSM Grade 8 with a high distinction in violin at 16.

“I want to become a professional violinist”, said Penelope. “My tutors believe I have the ability and work ethic to do so.”

But her talent doesn’t stop with violin – with Penelope simultaneously training in clarinet to a Grade 8 level and, more recently, in viola and keyboard on the advice of her tutors.
However, the path to becoming a professional classical musician is very expensive, even with large grants for tuition.

Expenses range from smaller items like sheet music, shoulder rests and strings to larger overheads, including tuition fees and the instruments themselves.

Penelope has frequently been told that to support her ambitions, she requires high-quality instruments. With her current instruments loaned to her, family illness and changing circumstances have meant that, without external support, Penelope would not be able to continue pursuing her dream career path.

“In order to fully prepare for entry into a conservatoire, I am now taking additional lessons in viola and keyboard,” she said. “However, this means that I now need to raise over £2,500 just for the extra tuition. When you factor in other activities, such as chamber music or National Orchestra courses, things can get very expensive.

“Grants like the Inspiration Grant from The Bernicia Foundation really do go a long way towards covering some of those expenses for me”


The future is bright for Penelope, with her contributions to the CAT programme and Young Sinfonia frequently praised along with her performances, both solo and as part of small ensembles and larger orchestras.

“Nell is an outstanding musician; she is a wonderful listener and communicator, and this shines through in her ensemble work. Her versatility and open approach help not only her own development but also those around her.

“Supporting her technical progress through additional lessons in viola and keyboard will continue to boost her confidence, and we can’t wait to see what her future holds.”

Penelope’s Study Leader, James Craig

“Penelope is an extremely talented musician, and her drive to achieve her dream of becoming a professional classical musician is clear for everyone to see.

“To have achieved Grade 8 in both violin and clarinet at such a young age is incredible, so to be supporting her next steps of taking up viola and keyboard is very exciting.”

enny Allinson, Director at The Bernicia Foundation

Penelope’s musical ambitions are now supported by The Bernicia Foundation’s £1000 Inspiration Grant.

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