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COMPETITION RESULTS

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-16 performance went to12-year old pianist Christopher McDonald from St. Colman’s College - he played a Beethoven sonata and a Chopin nocturne.

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-year history, there were two NI Young Musicians of the Year 2016.

14-year-old Tom Myles, a clarinettist from Regent House School, tied for the title with Grainne White, a 16-year-old violinist from Carrickfergus Grammar School.
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-special qualities that mark out top-class musicians: passion and commitment.” Michael praised Tom’s complete command of the difficult Time Pieces by Polish-American composer Robert Muscynski and Grainne’s authoritative interpretation of the dramatic Praeludium and Allegro by Austrian Fritz Kreisler.

Runner-up was 17-year-old Matthew Kendell, from St Malachy’s College, who played an Elegie by Vieuxtemps on viola. Third prize went to 17-year-old cornet player Sam Brodison, also from Carrickfergus GS, who played a concerto by Philip Sparke. The Most Promising Young Musician title was won by 11-year-old Jack Myles on trombone, brother of the joint winner, performing The Acrobat by John Greenwood.

Winners of certificates were: Jake Houston (flute), 13, from Cambridge House School; Anna-Maria O’Donnell (cello), 15, from St Mary’s GS; Angela Liu (piano), 12, from Methodist College; Robert Henderson (recorder), 13, from Lumen Christi College; Jamie Howe (piano), 13, from Friends’ School; Ganesha O’Donnell (viola), 17, from St Mary’s GS; Rebecca Doherty (recorder), 16, from Lumen Christi College; Bethany McClenaghan (piano), 16; Olivia Palmer-Baker (bassoon), from Regent House; Jack Rainey (flute), 17, from Fivemiletown College; and Georgia Begley (violin), 16, from Methodist College.



2015
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-ordination and her playing displayed all the subtleties of the music.

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.










2014
Angus McCall, a 17-year-old cellist, from Methodist College, is the Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year 2014.
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.
Runner-up was singer Andrew Irwin (18) from Chethams School of Music; Percussionist Cathryn Lynch (14) from Sullivan Upper School was third, and 12-year old Clarinettist Tom Myles from Methodist College was named as the most promising under-14 finalist.

12-year old Clarinettist Tom Myles from Regent House was named as the most promising under-14-year-old at the final of this year’s Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year Competition, which was held in the Harty Room in Queen’s University Belfast on Saturday 22 March, and featured 16 of Northern Ireland’s top young musicians.









2013
Eva Richards, a 17-year-old cellist from Ballymena, is the Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year 2013.

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-O stood out as the clear winner.
Runner-up was violinist Iryna Glyebova from Lisburn (17), playing Monti’s Czardas “in an exciting and dynamic performance”. Soprano Alice Cartmill (18) from Rathfriland was third, performing Vilia from Lehar’s The Merry Widow “with sensitivity and at a beautifully measured pace”. Edwin remarked on the confidence of these two young musicians, each communicating her chosen piece with conviction and style.
Two additional prizes were awarded to the best under-15 entrants. Winners were Sam Brodison, 14, from Larne, on cornet, and Rebecca Doherty, 13, from L/Derry on descant recorder.

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-established contest, now in its 21st year, is an opportunity for the club to raise some much-needed funds for two local charities – the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust and the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.”

2012
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.
Runner-up was Sam Brodison from Larne (13), playing Percy Code’s Zelda on cornet. Zak Hassan from Ballymoney (13) came third, playing Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor on violin. Philip remarked on the confidence of these two young musicians, both of them tackling difficult pieces with great style and technique.
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-established contest is an opportunity for the club to raise some much-needed funds for two very deserving charities – the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust and the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.”







2011
The 2011 Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year is Bradley Parker, a 14-year-old bagpiper from Portavogie. Bradley, a pupil at Regent House School, Newtownards, has been playing the pipes since he was five, and has an already established reputation as an outstanding piper. Among the victories behind him are at Ulster, all-Ireland and international levels and include a world record for three years in succession by winning the award for the best overall under-18 piper at the London Piping Society Championships. He is a pupil of John Wilson in Paisley and travels regularly to Scotland for his piping lessons.








2010

Sixteen-year-old Craig Lutton from Antrim won the 2010 contest with a rousing performance on xylophone of a piece entitled Bacchanale. He has been learning percussion since he was seven-years-old and plays not only timpani, but shows equal enthusiasm for other drums, the timpani and marimba.  He is tutored by Jim Lutton – no relation – of Kells, and is a member of the Cambridge House School Band and Drum Corps, the NEELB Senior Orchestra, and the Ulster Youth Orchestra.










2009
14 year-old flautist Stephen Rankin from Ballymena and a student at Cambridge House Grammar School won the 2009 competition. He played The Great Train Race by Ian Clarke with panache and impressive technical skill, beating 15 other finalists to the title.
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."
Runner-up was 15-year-old violinist, Natasha Kirk from Ballygowan, who played a Kreisler piece with great style and personality, in third place was Aimeé Consiglia, a 15-year-old flautist from Castlewellan, who goes to Regent House GS in Newtownards. The adjudicator praised her performance of a difficult sonata by Taktakashvili for its maturity and style.
Fourth was 18-year-old countertenor Conor Madden, a drama student at QUB, who sang a Gluck piece.
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-making. He thanked the Rotary Club of Comber for organising “this important event in the musical calendar”.
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.”


2008
15-year-old pianist Fionnuala Ward won Northern Ireland’s Young Musician of the Year 2008.
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.
Runner-up was 16-year-old Peter Glasgow on alto saxophone. His interpretation of Gabriel Grovlez’s Sarabande et Allegro was, said Melvin, “beautifully shaped and fluent, showing his technical skill and enjoyment of the music”. Peter studies at Ballyclare High School.
In third place was 15-year-old Amy Mathews of Belfast, playing clarinet. Amy’s performance of Malcolm Arnold’s unaccompanied Fantasy “filled the room with fine music, enthralling the audience”, said Melvin.
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-making. He also thanked the Rotary Club of Comber for organising “this most important event in the musical calendar”.

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.


2007
Sean Rooney, a 13-year-old pianist, is the 2007 Northern Ireland’s Young Musician of the Year.
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.
Runner-up was 14-year-old Malachy Frame on trumpet. His interpretation of a Concert Etude by Russian composer Goedicke was “technically complete and fluent, and showed clear confidence and enjoyment of the music”. Malachy is a student of Methodist College.

In third place was 16-year-old guitarist Eoin Gribben, from Randalstown, a student from St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt. His chosen piece was Akäskero by Austrian composer Thomas Leeb. Fourth was 16-year-old Scott Lowry on violin from Belfast, who chose a virtuoso violin piece by Pugnani, adapted by Kreisler. Scott goes to Grosvenor Grammar School. Simon Taylor’s choices in the ‘highly commended’ category were: Declan McErlane, guitar, from Magherafelt; Aaron Leung, piano, from Belfast; and Jonathon Lamberton on bagpipes, from Mallusk.
Simon Taylor congratulated all 16 finalists on getting to the final and creating a wonderful evening of music-making. He thanked the Rotary Club of Comber for organising “This important event in the musical calendar”.


2006

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-renowned concert pianist John O’Conor, and Professor Réamonn Keary. He was a finalist in the 2008 national BBC Young Musician of the Year contest, and is studying mathematics at Queens University Belfast.













2005

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-known London practice advising leading international companies, organisations and governments. He has carried on his musical interests on violin with the Cambridge Beethoven Ensemble.









2004

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.







2003

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.







2002

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-winning Kellswater Flute Band. With them he plays a full range of wind instruments – from the piccolo through G-treble and concert flute, to the enormous sub-contra bass flute at the other.



2001

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-year master’s course in Geneva under Gabor Takacs concentrating on developing a new string quartet she and three others have formed. While in Geneva, Kim has been able to use the financial benefits of the Young Musician’s Platform awarded her by the Northern Ireland Arts Council to continue personal private cello tuition from world class German tutor Christoph Richter. Kim now appears regularly in concerts at home and abroad.





















2000

Hyung Kyong Koo, a young Korean pianist living in Belfast won in 2000. She is believed to be studying medicine at Queen’s University.














1999

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-opening. Back in Northern Ireland he has been teaching piano and guitar; doing a bit of instrumental work with a number of schools; and trying his hand on jazz piano in a County Down restaurant.















1998

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.









1997

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.

















1996  

Singer Gillian McWilliams from Carrickfergus, who won in 1996 did not take up full-time music as a career. Instead she studied politics and history for her BA at UU, and subsequently completing her Masters in HR management and personnel development.  Nevertheless she continued to sing in Northern Ireland at concerts and weddings and as an enthusiastic member of the Loughside Choir until her husband’s work took him back to his native Scotland. There she works on the personnel side of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.








1995

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.






1994

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.


















1993

Clare McKeown from Templepatrick, who won the first competition in 1993, is now full-time co-leader of 2nd violins in the RTE Concert Orchestra. A recent highlight was when she travelled with the Orchestra and Chorus to Rome to perform Messiah for Pope Benedict on the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death; and she individually took part in last year’s Castleward Opera season. After winning her Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year title Clare undertook both undergraduate and post-graduate studies at the Royal Scottish Academy and, until her appointment with RTE, freelanced in Portugal and Scotland.