Wednesday, May 18, 2016

BBC Young Musician 2016

18 May 2016

This is the sixth time I have written here about the biennial BBC Young Musician competition – a competition I have followed avidly since it started in 1978. You can read all my previous posts at: Two years ago I proudly boasted that I had correctly managed to pick three of the five category winners while watching the category finals. This time I am even more smug, having correctly predicted all five – though I should acknowledge that if you watch the TV coverage very carefully you begin to pick up subtle clues from the cautiously non-committal comments of the presenters and judges after each performance. No such clues were necessary however to spot that, from his first appearance in the strings final, 'cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason was clearly going to win the whole competition. Like another young 'cellist, Laura van der Heijden in 2012, there was something special about his performances – passionate, thoughtful, intelligent and incredibly mature for one so young. And his off-stage shyness, politeness and humility only made him an even more likeable winner. The 2016 BBC Young Musician competition felt like one of the best ever, with a concerto final at The Barbican in London that included a horn player for the first time in many years (Ben Goldscheider playing the 'Concerto No 2' by Richard Strauss) and a remarkably charismatic performance by the first saxophone player ever to reach the final, Jess Gillam from Ulverston in Cumbria (who played 'Where the Bee Dances' by Michael Nyman). But Sheku Kanneh-Mason's outstanding performance of the 'Concerto No 1' by Shostakovitch was a fitting climax to a wonderful competition.

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