Past, present and future - The BBC and its Young Musician Competition

Monday 20 May 2013, 19:03

Jon Jacob Jon Jacob Editor, About the BBC Blog

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The biennial search for the BBC Young Musician of 2014 starts in earnest today. Applications for next year’s competition are now welcome. The closing date in 26 July 2013.

Young Musician of the Year 1978 Some of the Young Musician of the Year 1978 finalists L-R: Rona Murray, Humphrey Burton , Paul Coker and Michael Collins

The competition was first won by trombonist Michael Hext in 1978. The BBC competition led to the start of the Eurovision Young Musicians Competition in 1982.

This year the competition sees the usual categories for brass, keyboard, percussion, strings and woodwind. For the first time this year, there will also be a new Jazz Award. For more information about this year’s competition including how to apply, visit the Young Musician website.

Past competitors and winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition are an impressive present day roll-call of soloists, recording artists, composers, and musicians from the UK classical music scene. Some previous winners include:

  • Oboist Nicholas Daniel who won at 18 years old, and now continues to be a successful recording artists and makes numerous appearances in concert halls across the UK including the BBC Proms. He is a Professor of Oboe at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and also holds teaching posts at Indiana University and the Trossingen Musikhochschule. In 2011 was awarded the Queens Medal for Music.

  • Emma Johnson (clarinet, 1984) had already played in the National Youth Orchestra for three years when she entered and won  the Young Musician competition in 1984. She continued studies in English and Music at Cambridge University. She has a busy concert schedule and has recorded many albums for label ASV. For a generation of clarinettists she was also the reason they were introduced to the instrument at school.

  • David Pyatt (horn, 1988), debuted at the BBC Proms in 1993, principal horn at the London Symphony Orchestra in 1998 and this year joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Natalie Clein (cello, 1994), won the competition at the age of 17, going on to win the Eurovision competition in Warsaw that year. She debuted at the BBC Proms in 1997 and was one of the first artists to join the inaugural Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme of 1999. She has released recordings since 1994 and now teaches at Trinity College of Music.

  • Nicola Benedetti MBE (violin, 2004) – who was announced today as the BBC Young Musician of the Year Ambassador for 2014 - took part in the competition when she was 16, winning with her performance of Szymanowski’s First Violin Concerto, soon after which she signed with Deutsche Grammophon. She performed at the Last Night of the Proms in 2012 and was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2013.

A quick look over competitors over the past 35 years also reveals a similarly impressive array of now familiar names in the classical music world:

  • Michael Collins (clarinet, 1978)
  • Barry Douglas (piano & conductor, 1978)
  • Stephen Hough (piano, 1978) 
  • Tasmin Little (violin, 1982) 
  • Steven Osborne (piano, 1988) 
  • Thomas Ades (piano, 1990) 
  • Colin Currie (percussion, 1994)
  • Alison Balsom (trumpet, 1998)
  • Benjamin Grosvenor (piano, 1994)

Applications for the competition are now welcome; the deadline for the classical competition is 26 July. Entries for the jazz award can be submitted from 1 – 18 August 2013.

Jon Jacob is Editor, About the BBC Blog and website. 


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