The 2017 Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year is Samuel Kane from Portadown College
Adjudicator Richard Yarr thanked Comber Rotary for the invitation, adding that it was a pleasure, a privilege and an honour, and he congratulated the club for continuing to put on the competition which is going from strength to strength, and is extremely valuable. He also thanked the organiser Edwin Gray, social media, the schools and colleges, accompanist Michael Harrison, and Gillian McCutcheon who adjudicated the heats.
Before calling the outcome, Richard gave some pointers to what he had been looking for; players absorbed in their music, clear introductions to the audience, and remembering that they were part of a double act with the accompanist; a good facial expression entering the piece, and sustaining the mood and atmosphere of the music. Acknowledge the accompanist and audience; is the piece doing you justice? Do you understand its architecture? Is your own personality in the music?
Richard thanked parents and teachers before providing individual feedback to the contestants. He concluded by adding that he was also checking on the complexity of the pieces, technique, musicianship and engagement with the audience.
Samuel played the second movement from Violin Concerto in D minor by Sibelius. The runner up was Gary Hunt from Campbell College, and he played Fauré’s Elégie on cello. Rebecca Doherty from Lumen Christi College was awarded third place for her performance on three recorders of pieces by Sammartini, Rose and Jacob. The prize for the best under-
Certificates were awarded to Bethany McClenaghan (home educated), Lucia Corrigan (Methodist College), Daniel Sharpe (Carrickfergus Grammar School), Erin Whitley (Loreto Grammar School), Megan Barnes (Carrickfergus Grammar School), Louis Bell (Hunterhouse College), Lucian McCauley (St. Columb’s College), Georgia Begley (Methodist College) and Conall McHugh (Aquinas Grammar School).
For the first time in its 24-
Adjudicator Michael McCracken was so impressed by both performances that he could not separate them. He pointed to their excellent musicianship, saying: “At this level I take technical ability for granted but both these performers displayed those extra-
Winners of certificates were: Jake Houston (flute), 13, from Cambridge House School; Anna-
Michael McCracken , adjudicator for NI YMOY said it had been a pleasure and a privilege to have been invited to adjudicate music making of such a high standard. It had been very difficult to select 16 finalists from 40 performances and in the final there were no losers. In their playing and singing they all had shown what music was all about.
Winner of the competition was percussionist Cathryn Lynch who had given stunning performances in both pieces. Her Marimba piece was absolutely amazing and commenting on her combined percussion playing, the adjudicator said it was a stunning performance. Cathryn had full command of all her instruments, showed great co-
Second was Rebecca Doherty who played recorder with great sense of style and phrasing, and third was Tom Myles who gave a wonderful performance on clarinet.
The winner of the under 13 section was 12 year old pianist Rowel Friers who played the first movement of a Beethoven sonata with the style and panache of a much more experienced player. His lyrical and exquisite performance was a joy to hear. Michael predicted a great future ahead for Rowel who in his playing already demonstrates the ability to interpret the music like an experienced performer.
Angus McCall, a 17-
The final in the Harty Room in Queen’s University, Belfast on Saturday 22 March featured 16 of the province’s top young musicians.
Adjudicator Edwin Gray complimented all the contestants on their excellent performances. He said the standard was extremely high with not even one disappointing performance, and the performers and their teachers should be justly proud of all of them.
Eva Richards, a 17-
The final in the Harty Room in Queen’s University, Belfast on Saturday 9 March featured 15 of the province’s top young musicians.
Adjudicator Edwin Gray complimented all the contestants on their excellent performances. He said it had been a real pleasure to listen to so many young people of different ages performing such a wide and challenging range of music. He had been impressed and moved. “I would like to award everyone a prize,” he commented. “You all have proved that you have a gift for music, which is much more valuable than any prize.” The key elements he looked for were technique, interpretation and communication. Every player had demonstrated all of these but, for him, Eva’s confident, lyrical performance of Mark Summer’s Julie-
Two additional prizes were awarded to the best under-
Jim Torney, president of the event’s organisers, the Rotary Club of Comber, commented: “As well as providing a valuable platform for young musicians to gain competition experience, this well-
Andrew Douglas from Comber is the 20th winner of Northern Ireland’s Young Musician of the Year.
The final was held in The Harty Room in Queen’s University, Belfast on Saturday 03 March and featured fourteen of the province’s top young musicians selected at the elimination heat on Monday in Comber.
Adjudicator Philip Hammond complimented all the contestants on their hard work and excellent performances, making many helpful comments. He said it had been a pleasure to listen to so many young people of different ages performing such a wide range of music. He also commented that he particularly liked their stage presence and the way they introduced their pieces to the audience. He had been looking primarily for musicality and technical ability and found it in every performance. But for him, Andrew’s performance on flute of Fauré’s Fantaisie stood out as the clear winner.
Karen McKeown, President of the Rotary Club of Comber commented: “As well as providing a valuable platform for young musicians to gain competition experience, this well-
The 2011 Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year is Bradley Parker, a 14-
Commenting on Stephen’s win, the adjudicator, BBC’s music producer Richard Yarr, said:
"At the age of 14, flautist Stephen Rankin is a talent we are sure to hear more of in the future.
“In his 70th birthday year Sir James Galway will be very happy to hear that the quality of flute playing in Northern Ireland remains as high as ever."
Fourth was 18-
Richard Yarr’s choices in the ‘highly commended’ category were Craig Lutton (14) from Randalstown, playing xylophone, “a real entertainer”, and Andrew Douglas (13), a stylish young flautist from Comber.
Adjudicator Richard Yarr commented:
"The talent on display is so encouraging. It speaks not only of the competitors’ commitment, but also that of their teachers and parents.
“These young performers are a credit to Northern Ireland and I'm proud to have been able to hear them and to offer them some practical tips."
He congratulated all 16 finalists on getting to the final and creating a wonderful evening of music-
Comber Rotary Club’s President Howard Beattie said:
“This annual flagship event provides a platform for young musicians to gain essential competition experience. It is also an opportunity for us to show our commitment to local charities, particularly those supporting young people and their families.”
Fionnuala, who lives in Magherafelt and goes to St Mary’s Grammar School in the town, is a pupil of Derry pianist Ruth McGinley. She played Le chat et la souris (The cat and the mouse), a playful but challenging piece by the American composer Aaron Copland. In the words of adjudicator Melvin Rickarby “Fionnuala gave the most engrossing and technically perfect performance. Her energy and enthusiasm showed through from beginning to glorious end”.
Fionnuala received an engraved Tyrone Crystal bowl and £250 in vouchers for Matchetts Music, supporters of the competition for many years.
In third place was 15-
The adjudicator’s choices in the Highly Commended category were Mathew Parish on piano, from Belfast; Ami Ogilby on flute from Carrickfergus; and Stephen Rankin from Ballymena, also on flute.
Adjudicator Melvin Rickarby congratulated all 12 finalists on getting to the final and creating a wonderful evening of music-
Comber Rotary Club President Ken Brundle said: “This annual flagship event provides a platform for young musicians to gain essential competition experience. It is also an opportunity for us to show our commitment to local charities, particularly those supporting young people and their families.” Since the competition began in 1993 it has raised £75,000 for local young people’s charities, in particular the NI Music Therapy Trust and the NI Cancer Fund for Children.
Sean Rooney, a 13-
Sean, from Mayobridge goes to Abbey Grammar School in Newry. He played “Romance” by the Finnish composer Sibelius, and won the title because, in the words of adjudicator Simon Taylor, “He gave the most complete and engrossing performance of the competition. He showed he had really thought it through from beginning to glorious end”. Sean received an engraved Tyrone Crystal bowl and £250 in vouchers from Matchetts Music, sponsors of the event.
In third place was 16-
Simon Taylor congratulated all 16 finalists on getting to the final and creating a wonderful evening of music-
Pianist Sam Law from Ballymena Academy took the honours in 2006. He has since been travelling weekly to the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, studying under its director, internationally-
Stephen Heagney from Belfast, winner in 2005, has been studying law at Cambridge University and is believed now to be gaining work experience with a well-
Former Methodist College pupil Ryan Gray played the euphonium to take his title in 2004. Though the euphonium still gets a regular outing he is now more likely to be seen on trombone with the University Jazz Band at Newcastle where he is studying dentistry. But when study allows he can also be seen on regular solo gigs and with a small jazz group around the Newcastle clubs – and, when home, plays with the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Justin Livingstone from Belfast, 2003’s winner, is now firmly focused on English Literature studies at the University of Edinburgh. Having completed his undergraduate degree, he is now studying for his PhD. For a period in Scotland he continued his flute studies alongside a flautist from the Scottish National Orchestra, and played with one of the university’s orchestras, but this now very much takes second place to his English studies.
Guitarist Darren Scroggie from Ballymena Academy won in 2002. Since then he has completed five years studying medicine at Queens University, and is now a doctor at Causeway Hospital, Coleraine. Though medicine now clearly takes up his primary focus, Darren still finds extraordinary time to devote to his music. He still plays classic and jazz guitar, and is a member of James Huish’s Michael Bublé Tribute Band. However his intense love of music also spreads to the flute – and in particular to the championship-
Kim Vaughan from Derry who won in 2001, has completed her primary degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and is in the middle of a two-
Hyung Kyong Koo, a young Korean pianist living in Belfast won in 2000. She is believed to be studying medicine at Queen’s University.
Scott Foster played the marimba to take his Young Musician title in 1999. He studied at the Royal College of Music and then taught and performed in London as a freelance percussionist before returning to Northern Ireland last year. A London highlight was participation in a theatrical percussion show called Noise Ensemble which took him to Russia, Korea, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, and Cyprus – and even to the Ulster Hall for its re-
John Wilson, 1998’s winner, teaches as Head of Piano at the Lisburn School of Music, having previously studied piano for ten years in Dublin at the Leinster School of Music. Apart from his classical training he also played in several rock and metal bands in his late teens and now provides the piano, keyboard and synth sounds for Risky Business – well known at gigs around Lisburn and futher afield.
Belfast cellist Jonathan Byers who won in 1997 plays with the Badke Quartet, widely recognised as one Britain’s finest string quartets. The Badke regularly performs at festivals in the UK and abroad, including the Aldeburgh and Verbier Festivals, Belfast Festival at Queens, Chichester Festivities and the London String Quartet Week. Jonathan works regularly with several other period instrument groups including the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and his other orchestral work includes Camerata Ireland, the RTE Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.
Singer Gillian McWilliams from Carrickfergus, who won in 1996 did not take up full-
Flautist Jonathan Johnston from Temple, Co Down was NI Young Musician of the Year in 1995, and was successful in gaining a scholarship to the James Galway International Flute Seminar in Switzerland. He attended the Royal Northern Academy of Music where he completed his BMus (Hons) in 2000. He has released a number of solo CDs, and over the years has given numerous concerts and recitals throughout the UK. His freelance orchestral playing has presented the opportunity to play with the Ulster, City of Birmingham, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras. In more recent years he has focussed largely on performing as a “Headline Entertainer” on some of the world’s exclusive cruise ships.
Violinist Jonathan Coffey from Antrim won in 1994. A pupil at Antrim Grammar he departed for Cambridge to study music there, but after a few years changed course. He completed his undergraduate studies in politics, and moved on to complete a Masters and PhD in legal philosophy. He works as an assistant current affairs producer based in Belfast with the BBC. His musical interest continues in regular appearances with Barry Douglas’ Camerata Ireland and occasional appearances with the Ulster Orchestra.
Clare McKeown from Templepatrick, who won the first competition in 1993, is now full-
|2012 Winner_Andrew Douglas|
|2016 Winners_Tom Myles & Grainne White|
|2009 Winner_Stephen Rankin|
|2008 Winner_Fionnula Ward|
|2007 Winner_Sean Morgan-Rooney|
|2010 Winner_Craig Lutton|
|2013 Winner_Eva Richards|
|2011 Winner_Bradley Parker|
|2006 Winner_Sam Law|
|2005 Winner_Stephen Heagney|
|2004 Winner_Ryan Gray|
|2003 Winner_Justin Livingstone|
|2002 Winner_Darren Scroggie|
|2001 Winner_Kim Vaughan|
|2000 Winner_Hyun Kyoung Koo|
|1999 Winner_Scott Foster|
|1998 Winner_John Wilson|
|1997 Winner_Jonathan Byers|
|1995 Winner_Jonathan Johnston|
|1996 Winner_Gillian McWilliams|
|1994 Winner_Jonathan Coffey|
|1993 Winner_Claire McKeown|
|2014 Winner_Angus McCall|
|2015 Winner_Cathryn Lynch|
|2017 Winner Samuel Kane|