Earlier this month, we held the final round of the Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform competition, a very prestigious contest open to singers and instrumentalists either living or going to school in the south-west at grade seven or above.
It was hard work picking four winners (who each claim a £250 prize and the chance to play alongside professional musicians in our main two-week event in October), but we eventually came to a decision, with violinist Hannah Brooks-Hughes, cellist Willard Carter, cornet player Andrew Wingham and cellist Rebecca McNaught all taking the top spots.
In the coming weeks, we will be featuring interviews with each of our four winners so you can find out a bit more about them, their playing and their love for classical music, and we’re starting off with violinist Hannah Brooks-Hughes, our youngest-ever winner at the age of 10.
HBH: I was at school and my dad had texted the head of music when the letter arrived at home, so it was Mr McVittie who came and found me in my history lesson. Of course inside myself I was thrilled, but as I was at school I had to remain calm! I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day though!
2MF: Did you ever expect to win?
HBH: As it was my first attempt, and as I was so young compared to most of the other entrants, I didn’t expect to win. I had set myself the target of making it through to the second round though. On the way down for the final audition my dad got lost, so we arrived late, and it was all very rushed, but I felt I played well, and I really enjoyed the performance with Alison Farr playing piano for me – she’s an amazing pianist!
2MF: How does it feel to be our youngest-ever winner?
HBH: I’m very proud, and I’m even more excited because I am younger than the other competitors. I’m used to playing in competitions where I’m competing against older musicians, but to win such a prestigious competition, and to be the youngest, feels quite special I have to admit.
2MF: How will you be preparing for the concert in October?
HBH: I’m going to give the repertoire I choose a lot of thought because I want the performance to be special. Then it will be lots of practise and I would hope to be able to perform the pieces I choose at other ‘practice’ concerts beforehand. And of course I will need to go shopping to buy a new dress!
2MF: Has winning given your confidence as a violinist a boost?
HBH: Most definitely – yes! Competing against much older competitors, and winning, has given me confidence, and since this competition in fact I have won an ‘Under 18 Recital’ class at the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts.
2MF: What are your future ambitions as a violinist?
HBH: I’d like to enter more regional and national competitions, and hopefully in a few years time the BBC Young Musician Competition. For the far off future I want to travel around the world performing.
2MF: Which violinist do you most look up to?
HBH: There are so many great violinists that I love listening to, but there are two that are special to me right now. Nicola Benedetti makes such a beautiful sound, and I admire the fact that she works so hard and always seems so happy. And my teacher, Matthew Denton of the Carducci Quartet, is a fantastic violinist who also works so hard for me.
2MF: What piece of music do you most love playing?
HBH: At the moment it is The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. It is such a beautiful work and yet it also has such sadness about it. I love trying to create those emotions.
Want more? Check out our video of Hannah playing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 5.