21st September 2018
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WATCH: Vocalists sing their way to young musician of the year title

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Twelve young performers took to the stage at Mareel on Wednesday night to showcase the wealth of musical talents in the isles.

In front of a crowd of family and friends the youngsters performed with a confidence belying their age.

Adjudicator Anne Macdonald, who plays with the violin section of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, told the audience, prior to crowning a winner in the senior category, that she was in an “unenviable” position and that she would like to give out three trophies.

The junior category sees primary school pupils vie for the honours while the senior category features a more polished cast of competitors who exemplify the value of practise and commitment.

The title of Shetland Schools Music Festival’s young musician of the year can be a springboard to a bright musical future.

Last year’s senior winner Amy Laurenson has since landed a spot at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she will study piano performance while flautist Kiera Munro secured a role in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in the same year she won the competition.

Winner of the junior young musician of the year trophy Martha Brown. Photo: Dave Donaldson

First on stage were the five primary school pupils hoping to land the junior trophy. They represented a range of instruments and schools.

A festive vein of pop culture melodies ran through this section with all but one competitor choosing a piece recognisable from television or film.

Harry Simpson on alto saxophone had the nerve-wracking task of setting the bar – a task he handled with a cool composure.

In adjudication Ms Macdonald praised him for his performance of the theme from Great Escape which she described as “spot on all the way through”.

Eventual winner Martha Brown was next, singing The Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book and Castle on a Cloud from Les Misérables.

Her “hugely confident opening” and “beautiful melodies” proved successful, earning her the honours in the junior category.

David Williamson tackled two challenging violin pieces from Joseph Haydn and Paul Desmond. Ms Macdonald credited his “stylish” Haydn and the way he handled the change of mode into the “jazzy” Take Five.

On guitar Lulu Johnson impressed Ms Macdonald with her “fantastic dexterity”, performing Arkansas Traveller and the James Bond theme from Dr No.

Last on stage was Joe Clubb, the only brass player. His baritone horn performance of John Williams’ Darth Vader theme from Star Wars was described as “menacing”.

If the performers in the junior category are talented musicians still refining their skills the senior performers are very much the musical stars of tomorrow.

The nitpicking errors picked up in adjudication were inconspicuous to the untrained ear with every performer exhibiting a mastery of their respective instruments.

Emily Briggs, on violin, “set the bar very high” for the other six senior competitors, according to Ms Macdonald. The “emotional journey” of her rendition of Adoration by Felix Borowski was a particular highlight, the adjudicator said.

Elizabeth Halcrow on piano chose to tackle two challenging pieces Glinka and Debussy, respectively. She was praised for her “clearly marked” playing and “beautiful articulations”.

On clarinet Anna Skindzier dazzled Ms Macdonald with her performance of the Second Movement from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. The piece was described by the adjudicator as the “highlight of the evening.”

Senior winner Lindsay Garrick was the fourth performer in the senior category. She sang Pieta, Signore from Italian composer Alessandro Stradella and the The Lady is a Tramp from the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms.

Her mature and “versatile” performance was praised for having “just the right amount of acting”, earning her the top prize.

A second violin player was Emma Leask, who performed a medley of Shetland fiddle pieces which saw her “tremendous bowing technique” celebrated.

Bo Anderson’s piano playing was described as “very well controlled” by Ms Macdonald. In particular she applauded his rendition on Castle Ward.

The final performer competing was Jack Tait on alto sax. There was an “almost irresistible urge to dance” during his jazzy performance, Ms Macdonald said.

The Schools Music Festival alternates between primary school and secondary school performers during the day time events and Ms Macdonald, after the event, said she was “more than a little bit curious about what happened after primary school.”

This year’s secondary performers did not let her down, and she said there had been some “absolutely stunning” performances during the week.

Winners Martha, 12, and Lindsay, 17, were both delighted with their wins with the junior describing herself as “speechless”.

She praised Lindsay, who tutors her singing, and said she the evening felt like a double win for her and her teacher.

Lindsay intends to keep singing in her spare time once she travels to the mainland to study medicine. “It will be my way of relaxing”, she said.

About Keegan Murray

Reporter for The Shetland Times. Interested in politics, literature and music. Born and bred Shetlander. Long suffering Newcastle United supporter.

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