What an honour it was to have Old Scholar, Mr Philip Dukes, to adjudicate this year’s Blue Coat School Young Musician of the Year. Acclaimed as “Great Britain’s most outstanding solo viola player,” by The Times, Philip was unanimously elected a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2006 in recognition of his success as an international viola soloist and was awarded an Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2007. Philip, who is currently Artistic Director at Marlborough College was delighted to return to his former prep school to hear this year’s 81 semi-finalists and to choose the 16 finalists who would compete for the young musician title.
This year’s competition saw 146 pupils showcasing musical talent on instruments ranging from drums to harp, from clarinet to ukulele. The breadth of talent is testament to a school which encourages music to play an integral part in school life and seeks to identify musicality at an early age. Over 300 individual instrumental music lessons are given at school each week and it is not uncommon for pupils to achieve Grade 5 and above before they leave Blue Coat. Year 6 leavers are annually recognised for their musicianship by the country’s leading senior schools. Pupils’ recent 11+ offers include music scholarships and awards from King Edward’s School for Boys, Edgbaston High School for Girls, Solihull School and Cheltenham Ladies College.
Blue Coat’s young musicians listened intently to Mr Dukes’ very thorough feedback on their individual performances. To their credit, they promptly endeavoured to put his comments into practise and improve their technique for the Final. After a superb Gala Concert and much deliberating, it was time to announce the 2018 worthy winner as Tristan Wong (11). Tristan, who is also an advanced violinist and vocalist, gave an outstanding performance of the first movement of J. S. Bach’s towering Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971. His nimble fingers on this most technical of pieces had the audience enthralled.
We congratulate Tristan and also wish him well as he prepares for his upcoming performance at the prestigious European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) Regional Finals this weekend. We hope to see our newly crowned BCS Young Musician succeed in this hotly contested competition.