Cellist wins BBC Young Musician prize

image captionLaura van der Heijden plays a 1987 cello by Colin Irving. For the final (pictured) she played a 1911 Celeste Farotti loaned to her by Leonid Gorokhov.

Fifteen-year-old cellist Laura van der Heijden has won the BBC's Young Musician prize for 2012.

The teenager played Sir William Walton's Cello Concerto with the Northern Sinfonia at the competition's final at The Sage in Gateshead.

Accepting the £2,000 prize, van der Heijden, from East Sussex, said she felt "amazing" and "so, so lucky".

She beat pianist Yuanfan Yang and Charlotte Barbour-Condini, the final's first ever recorder player.

Born in England to a Dutch father and a Swiss mother, van der Heijden started her musical education with the recorder at the age of four.

image captionThe musician wins a trophy designed by Swansea jeweller Mari Thomasand, and a £2,000 prize

She soon progressed to the piano and then the cello at the age of six.

Since late 2008, she has been a student of the British-Russian cellist Leonid Gorokhov. Last year they performed together at the Brighton Festival and in Germany.

Her winning performance on Sunday was something of a risk as the Walton concerto is not a well-known piece.

"It's not played very often, but I think it deserves to be played," she said. "The colours and ideas in it... it's a very imaginative piece."

Conductor Kirill Karabits, who was leading the Sinfonia, said: "I really understand why she wanted to play that. It suits her really well. She enters in the music and it changes her."

The Young Musician contest is held biennially, and was previously known as Young Musician Of The Year.

The competition's last winner - pianist Lara Melda - gave a guest performance at Sunday's final.

Her predecessor, trombone player Peter Moore, became the youngest ever winner when he took the prize aged 12 in 2008.

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