Monday, May 19, 2014

BBC Young Musician 2014

19 May 2014

This is the fifth time I have written here about the biennial BBC Young Musician competition. Reading through my previous posts (you can read them all at: I think I have probably done enough moaning about the TV coverage. I have some sympathy for the points made in this article in The Independent: but, apart from my ongoing sadness that we are no longer treated to five concerto performances in the final, I really enjoyed this year's competition. Possibly for the first time, I managed to watch every minute of the coverage on BBC Four (which is no mean feat if you want to be ready to watch the concerto final live!). And my record of spotting the winners is improving: this year I picked three of the five category winners, correctly predicted the three who would make it through to the final and identified the overall winner before the start of the semi-final. More importantly, the 2014 concerto final was the best I can remember. All three performances were worthy of winning the title and all were immensely enjoyable – showcasing three teenagers with a very special blend of technical virtuosity, personality, musicality and emotion. It's a cliché but it is incredibly difficult to compare Elliott Gaston-Ross's performance of the percussion concerto 'African Rise/Manhattan Rave' by Dave Heath, Sophie Westbrooke playing Gordon Jacob's 'Suite for Recorder and Strings' and Martin James Bartlett performing the 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini' by Rachmaninov. But I think the young pianist was the correct winner – an astounding performer in an outstanding concert.

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