Last weekend, we held the first round of this year’s Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition, an event on the calendar that all followers of UK classical music festivals look forward to with great anticipation.
As ever, the standard was exceptionally high – there really is so much classical music talent in the south-west of the UK, something that we here at the Two Moors Festival are always keen to promote… hence the competition!
We thought you’d like to have a look at some of this year’s contestants (although we’re not revealing who’s made it through to the next stage just yet), so have a quick flick through some of the pictures below.
The Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition takes place each year, with four winners picked who then go on to take part in the festival’s main two-week event in October. It’s an amazing opportunity for young people who live or go to school in this part of the world to play alongside some of the best musicians in the world – a chance that doesn’t come around all that often – and the competition has helped to kickstart many young musicians’ careers.
If you’d like to apply for the 2016 competition, make sure that you keep a close eye on our blog and on the website so you can keep up to date with all the latest information so that you don’t miss out on the entry deadlines.
The first round of the Two Moors Festival’s Young Musicians Platform competition took place this weekend. A total of 47 candidates aged 18 and under entered at a standard of ABRSM Grade 7 and above. This could be any instrument plus voice and they were asked to prepare two contrasting pieces of their choice.
The competition is unique in several ways. The first is that we look for four outstanding players and not just one. The emphasis is on performance and ability to share an innate love of music with an audience. The audition atmosphere is unlike any other in that we chat in a fun way to each candidate from the moment they walk through the door and we also give a mini masterclass if there’s time. Each of the winners receives £250 plus an opportunity to share a recital in the main festival.
Judging from the feedback, all participants feel encouraged, inspired and above all retain their joy at being involved in playing classical music. In one instance, a young singer said he had been singing music theatre until recently. He then heard songs by Richard Strauss (nothing could be more different) as a result of which he was hooked on Lieder!
The way in which our competition operates begs the question – should all competitions be run along similar lines? Or does this imply that Bach’s B Minor Mass is something to be taken lightly? Does this prepare aspiring young musicians to enter the profession with rose-tinted spectacles when they should be aware of the arduous work and fierce competition that lie ahead? Does this give them a false impression that all competitions are going to be staged in a similar manner?
In an age when competitions abound and spring up like mushrooms, I believe the more encouragement one can give school-age youngsters the better. They need to be inspired, their sheer joy of being involved in classical music requires fostering as much as possible and nowadays, where there are so many competitions, to have one that does these in spade loads says a lot.
It’s instantly noticeable if the music comes from within a musician who plays from the soul. Likewise the opposite where the playing is automatic and the delivery forced. Dare I say it, but some of the performers from specialist music schools display this. There is always the expectation that these youngsters are bound to be brilliant but we’re often disappointed.
With all this in mind, this is where the Festival’s own competition comes into its own. The environment that is provided gives each entrant such stimulus that nerves are frequently dispensed with so that they can play with such expression that technical limitations don’t matter. Their overall love of music-making in a performance is all that matters regardless of whether they enter the profession or not and that the inspiration we give them will help them in later life.
Earlier this year, we held our final round of the Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition (with a top prize of £250 for each of the four winners and the opportunity to play alongside professional musicians at our main two-week event in October, with the concert taking place on the 25th at St George’s Church in Dunster).
Ever since then we’ve been featuring interviews with each of the four talented musicians who claimed the coveted top spots on the blog and now it’s time to find out about cornet player Andy Wingham, who seriously impressed us with his fantastic playing… and his equally fantastic sense of humour!
2MF: What made you start playing the cornet?
AW: My older brother joined Helston Town Band first and a year later the band rang and asked my parents if my twin brother Tim and I would also like to join. I always loved watching the band on the world famous Flora Day so I was eager to join in. Since then I have danced and played in every Flora Day, which for Helstonians is a really special event.
2MF: How hard is it to play?
AW: The instrument itself looks really simple as there are just three valves on a long piece of metal tubing. But to gain control and get a nice sound takes years of building up the muscles in the embouchure and diaphragm.
2MF: Got any tips for anyone thinking of taking it up?
AW: Go for it as it’s very versatile in its repertoire and if you’re in a band it’s a great way to meet new people and socialise. If people are interested most bands have youth sections, lend instruments and tuition is generally for free.
2MF: Did you think you’d win the Two Moors Competition?
AW: To be honest,, no, I didn’t! I entered last year and got through to the final round, and found the feedback from both rounds really useful. I decided to have another go this year, picked a really good programme and practised like mad until I could play it by heart. It obviously did the trick but it wasn’t without its ups and downs leading up to the final audition. On the day I thought I did ok but I knew I could have played one of my pieces better.
2MF: What was the first thing you did when you won?
AW: My dad gave me the sealed envelope and I was shaking as I opened it. As I read the letter I thought it was just saying well done and it wasn’t until I read further that it dawned on me. I then ran around the house shouting “I did it, I did it” and the rest of the family thought I had gone mad. They still laugh about it now. I then called my teacher and my granddad as they are big supporters in everything I do.
2MF: How have you been preparing for the concert?
AW: I have been looking at lots of new pieces, trying to decide on my programme. I want to do something that I haven’t done before as well as one of my favourite pieces. The problem is which to pick!
2MF: Are you looking forward to playing alongside professional musicians?
AW: Yes, and with Tine Thing Helseth in the programme a few days earlier it will be an unforgettable experience. I’m also looking forward to playing with the professional accompanist as it will give my dad a rest and he can sit back and listen!
2MF: Do you hope to be a professional musician when you leave school?
AW: Yes, I want to go to college to study trumpet and experience different genres. Recently, I was lucky enough to sit alongside a professional trumpeter for a touring show which was out of this world. Obviously I am a keen bandsman so I would like to see how far I can go with the cornet as well as playing my trumpet.
2MF: What are your plans for the summer?
AW: I am going on tour to Barcelona with the Helston School Mini Jazz Orchestra, which is going to be a great experience. We have several gigs arranged which will be fun and we get quite a bit of free time too so I am really looking forward to it.
The rest of my time I expect I’ll be practising for the band’s summer concerts, which include a big proms night in Helston and preparation for the Two Moors events. And, of course, being in Cornwall we’re never far from the beach!
We held our first round of the Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Competition over the (gloriously sunny) weekend and thought we’d share a few photographs of the event. It was a brilliant two days with some truly wonderful music-making – never let it be said that there isn’t any classical music talent in the south-west. Come back to the blog on Friday, when artistic director Penny Adie will be talking about all that went on.