Young Musicians Crowned in Competition’s 20th Year
Boys' Division Music

The Final of the 20th Young Musician of the Year competition took place at Bolton School Boys' Division in early March. It was the culmination of a superb period of music making in the school. Two full days of Heats took place in January, followed by a Semi-Finals day in early February which decided the fourteen Junior (Years 7-9) and Senior (Years 10-13) finalists.

Mr Forgrieve, Director of Instrumental Music, opened the evening with a welcome and by reminding everyone that each of the performers was already a winner, having topped their category in the competition. He also welcomed the evening's adjudicator: Simon Mercer, who had the challenging task of deciding both the Junior and Senior Young Musician of the Year following a suite of entertaining performances in an array of vastly different styles.

The Junior musicians opened the programme with two virtual performances: as half of Year 8 were visiting Patterdale Hall on the evening of the Final, those boys on the trip were able to pre-record their pieces in order to take part. The videos were played on a large screen at the front of the Great Hall. Junior Strings winner Justin Li performed ‘El Choclo’ by Ángel Villoldo on the violin, followed by Junior Guitar winner Ike Edwards playing ‘Dune tune’ by Mark King (Level 42) on the bass guitar.

Moving on to in-person performances, Junior Piano winner Nicky Ling (Year 8) played ‘Fantasia in D minor K.397’ by W A Mozart, Junior Percussion winner Charlie Simpson (Year 9) played ‘Jake To The Bone’ by Toto (arr. Charlie Simpson) on the drum kit, Junior Brass winner Mateo Sprott (Year 8) played ‘He’s a Pirate’ from Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt/Hans Zimmer on the trumpet, Junior Woodwind winner Tejas Neelam (Year 8) played ‘Fantaisie Valse (No.1 from Couleurs Caraïbe)’ by Valérie Rousse and Joël Littorie on the flute and finally Junior Vocal winner Thomas Sibley (Year 9) sang ‘Candle In The Wind’ by Elton John.

They were immediately followed by the Senior Young Musician of the Year finalists, beginning with another vocal performance: Senior Vocal winner Nathan Pierson (Year 11) sang ‘Vergin, Tutto Amor’ by Durante. Senior Brass winner William Earnshaw (Year 11) was up next with a tenor horn performance of ‘Manha de Carnaval’ by Antonio de Maria/Luiz Bonfa, arr. Robert Ramskill. Senior Woodwind winner Freddie Audley (Year 13) played ‘Lorito Caprice’ by Francisco Gomez on the clarinet and Senior Guitar winner James Bland (Year 13) performed ‘Die to Live’ by Steve Vai on the electric guitar. Senior Piano winner Tom Williamson (Year 12) played ‘Primeval Sounds’ (Genesis I) from Makrokosmos Volume I by George Crumb. Senior Percussion winner Finn Flanagan (Year 13) played ‘Leader of the Pack’ by Wunderhorse on the drum kit, and finally Senior Strings winner Harry Adams (Year 13) brought the Senior competition to a close with a violin performance of ‘Winter’ by Vivaldi.

With the competitive performances complete, there was a short interval to give Simon Mercer time for deliberation. The audience enjoyed refreshments in the Great Hall while they waited.

Following the interval, the Junior and Senior Young Composers of the Year were celebrated. Mr Forgrieve pointed out that the talent shown in this competition is amazing, as the compositions submitted are nothing to do with school work and are examples of the boys’ creativity. He invited the two winners up to the microphone to speak about their pieces before recordings were played for the audience.

Krishnan Velayutham (Year 9), winner of the Junior competition, explained that ‘The Last Angel’ was inspired by a short story he wrote, and evokes the isolation and sadness of the moment the hero’s species is wiped out. Tom Williamson (Year 12), who won the Senior competition, said that ‘Imminent Quartet’ was written for the traditional four-part string quartet and is meant to represent an approaching deadline, with a sense of rising urgency throughout.

The Most Promising Performer award is given to recognise an outstanding performance in the Semi-Finals, perhaps deserving of a place in the Final but which narrowly missed out. This year, the prize went to electric guitarist Dylan Lincoln (Year 13) and he too had an opportunity to perform on the evening: he played ‘Marigold’ by Periphery.

Finally, it was time for the adjudication and presentation of prizes. Simon Mercer began by echoing Mr Forgrieve’s words from earlier in the evening: that all of the boys who performed are already winners in their own right. He explained that his criteria for judging was based on ‘communication and, as musicians, how we communicate our love of our pieces to you, a willing and supportive audience’. He went on to thank both family members and the ‘terrific’ Music Department for their support of the young musicians in school.

Simon also reminded the boys that sometimes things happen in performance, and it doesn’t quite go how they might want it to, but advised them not to be intimidated by an audience or a fantastic Great Hall. He encouraged them to enjoy playing, have fun and take some risks.

He congratulated the two Young Composers of the Year, complimenting both pieces. He said of Krishnan’s: ‘as a piece of descriptive music, it was just superb.’ He called Tom’s piece ‘innovative, clever, witty’ and ‘difficult to play’.

Finally, it came to the judging. Simon said he had the ‘pleasure and difficulty’ of separating out two winners from a set of outstanding performances. Returning to his initial point, he said that his choice came down to performances involving communication and engagement with the music and with the audience.

Thomas Sibley was named the Junior Young Musician of the Year for his ‘totally natural’ performance which ‘commanded the space’.

The Senior Young Musician of the Year was Tom Williamson for ‘a brave choice of music’ playing a contemporary, avant-garde piece which nonetheless had the audience ‘captivated’.

Mr Ford, Head of Boys’ Division, then presented all of the Young Musician of the Year finalists with their class winner trophies and finally presented the two Young Musician of the Year Awards.

Mr Forgrieve thanked Simon for his adjudication and the audience for their enthusiastic support of the boys, both behind the scenes and in the Great Hall on the night. He also thanked accompanists Ms Lien and Mrs Whitmore, and the Music Department for their support.

This is the twentieth year of the Young Musician of the Year Award, which takes place annually thanks to the generous contribution of cash prizes from Mr and Mrs Hilton, parents of Old Boy and musician Alexander Hilton. Though they could not attend in person, Mr Forgrieve thanked them for their continued support.

Flickr album: Young Musician of the Year 2024 | Height: auto | Theme: Default | Skin: Default Skin


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