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St Mary’s returns to live music with the Young Pianist and Young Musician of the Year Competitions, 2021

St Mary’s returns to live music with the Young Pianist and Young Musician of the Year Competitions, 2021

Every year, we dedicate two events to seeing the talented pianists and musicians among our student population shine: Young Pianist of the Year and Young Musician of the Year competitions. During these concerts, students perform for their peers, teachers and staff, before the commended performances and a winner are selected. After a hiatus during the pandemic, we were delighted to host this competition in person once again, and to welcome Dr Nigel Yandell, Director of Music at Hughes Hall and teacher at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Music, as our judge.

Dr Yandell opened the concerts with a speech highlighting the importance of live performance for musicians, and offering advice to our performers, many of whom had not played before an audience for some time. Despite the break in performing, the standard was exceptional. Moreover, we saw our highest turn out of students yet, with 36 pupils performing in total, encompassing students from age 10 to 17.

On Tuesday, our youngest pianists, Eleanor D., Liana C., and Ariane M., opened the Intermediate Class section of the competition with a mix of romantic and modern pieces. Throughout the evening, the audience was treated to a vast musical repertoire, from baroque to contemporary, before Dr Yandell undertook the difficult task of selecting a winner. While Liana C. and Sarah H. received commendations for their pieces, Mariage d’Amour by Paul de Senneville and Starry Dome by George Nevada, Karla C. won with Nathalie Béra-Tagrine's Terminal 2. The stage was then set for the Advanced Class, who played an equally diverse range of pieces, from J.S. Bach to Amy Beach. After deliberation, Dr Yandell commended Emila M. for her rendition of Pink Minor by Madeleine Dring. The winner of the Advanced Class was Sonia W. for her skilful playing of J.S. Bach’s Fugues No.12 in F minor (BWV 857).

On Wednesday, we returned to listen to our talented young musicians. Chloe D. and Solveig S. even performed for the second night in a row, this time on the violin and flute respectively. The night began with wind instruments, before moving on to vocal performance, and ending with strings. Once more, there was an eclectic mix of pieces, each given its own interpretation by the performers, Bernice C. even played Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi on acoustic guitar. The competition was drawn to a close by Sonia W., who returned to perform her winning piece from the previous evening.

Dr Yandall then commended Davina Y. for her performance of Dvořák’s No. 1, 2 and 3, from Four Romantic Pieces on violin, Jasmine L. for her violin piece, an extract from de Beroit’s Concerto No.9 in A minor, Movement I, Ava Lee for singing John Ireland’s Sea Fever, and Rosie Plowman for her clarinet piece, James Rae’s Sole Bay and Harbour, Jasmine H. for her alto saxophone rendition of an Aria by Eugène B., and Margaret P. for her vocal performance, We’ll Gather Lilacs by Ivor Novello. Amidst strong competition, Maryam G. won the Young Musician of the Year Award for her stunning two performances, singing If I Loved You by Rogers and Hammerstein, and playing Schubert's Sonata in A minor on the viola.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Dr Yandell for adjudicating this competition. His extensive feedback and advice presented a valuable learning opportunity for our young pianists. We look forward to hearing more from our talented musicians going forwards. We also thank Sonia for all her work supporting our musicians.

You can view the full gallery of pictures from the Young Pianist of the Year Competition here, and the Young Musician of the Year Competition here.

 Find out more about music at St Mary’s here