Announcing the Dr Weir Legacy Award

Published 11 August 2019


The Executors of the Will of the late Dr Kenneth Ross Weir have appointed the Keyboard Charitable Trust to implement one of his key bequests: an annual award to support the musical education of a young keyboard player between the age of 12 and 20. Dr Weir was a frequent visitor at the Trust’s performances by its new intake of highly gifted pianists normally in their early twenties; he clearly thought of those whose circumstances deprived them of the training that might qualify them to enter the profession at this advanced level.

It is therefore natural that the Keyboard Trust’s three joint Artistic Directors – Prof. Leslie Howard, Dr Elena Vorotko and Christopher Axworthy – should be responsible for identifying the candidates for the Weir scholarships. Teaching and holding masterclasses at world-wide institutions, serving on juries of international competitions and tending links with academic exchange networks, they have far-reaching opportunities to become aware of potential beneficiaries. The scheme will therefore not be accessible by application.

This additional activity fits well with the Trust’s traditional field of intensively assisting highly promising young artists – pianists, organists and historical keyboard players – to build an international career in the short interval between ending their formal education and confronting a fully independent professional life.  Those who respond well to Dr Weir’s support may find an easy continuity as they advance to maturity in their profession. Followers of this website should receive news of the first award by the beginning of the new academic year.

2019 Recipient – Elias Ackerley

The Keyboard Trust would like to congratulate Elias Ackerley, the first recipient of Dr Weir’s Legacy. Elias will begin his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, USA in September 2019. The Keyboard Trust wish him every success!

Born in Shrewsbury in 2001, and emigrating the following year, Elias began his piano studies at the age of five in South Korea. After making rapid progress, he was taken on by Russian pianist, Oleg Shitin, under whose guidance he succeeded in a number of competitions, including winning the junior prize at the Gumi National Piano Competition in 2012.

In May 2013, at the age of eleven, Elias gave his debut recital in Chester and has since performed regularly in concerts in the UK, including as a soloist with a number of orchestras.

Between 2014 and 2019 Elias was a student at Chetham’s school of Music where he was a pupil of Dr Murray McLachlan (Head of Keyboard), under whose tutelage Elias succeeded in becoming the youngest ever winner of Chetham’s Beethoven competition in 2015. More recently, Elias won first prize at the Scottish International Youth Piano Competition (2017), the Blue Ribbon at the National Eisteddfod (2017) and the Epta UK Piano competition (2018). He was a keyboard finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2018.
Elias has received masterclasses from Sir Andras Schiff and Stephen Hough and lessons from Leslie Howard, Boris Berman and Robert McDonald.

Elias is currently a student of Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, USA.