Friday, May 21, 2010

BBC Young Musician 2010

21 May 2010

I said here in May 2006 that "I love the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition" but in May 2008 I felt it was a major disappointment “that the impact of this landmark musical event should be so watered down in its thirtieth anniversary year”. So I approached the BBC Young Musician 2010 with some nervousness to see whether full coverage of the competition had been restored after the debacle of 2008. Overall I was pleased and greatly relieved: the extensive coverage of the five category finals on BBC4 showed plenty of the actual performances, mostly uninterrupted, and the concerto final was broadcast live and in full. But clearly the wonderfully indulgent concert of five concertos is something that no longer warrants clearing the schedules, and the price of live classical music on BBC2 was a pruning of the format to only allow for three finalists. This meant the introduction of a semi-final in which the five category winners reprised their solo recitals in order for three to be chosen to perform concertos with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. I really felt for the two unsuccessful semi-finalists, who in any of the previous competitions would have taken their place on the final stage with the orchestra. It was very disappointing that, for the first time in 32 years, the final didn’t include a brass concerto. Nevertheless it was a wonderful concerto final with three fine performances and a clear and worthy winner. Regular readers will be amazed to learn that, for the first time in the history of the BBC Young Musician competition, I correctly predicted the winner! (Though I was only picking from three, rather than five contenders of course.) And all the broadcast performances were beautifully presented and excellently filmed – the BBC really does the visual presentation of classical music brilliantly well. In 2010 the BBC Young Musician competition regained a sense of dignity and I suspect it will long be remembered for the truly wonderful, astounding performance of Saint-Saëns' Piano Concerto No. 2 by the 16-year-old winner Lara Ömeroğlu. See for yourself at

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