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Young Musician of the Year Winner

The best of our solo musicians took to Great School in March to compete in the hotly contested Young Musician of the Year event – the finale of this year’s Music Competition.

There were eight performers from Year 8 to Year 13, all of whom gave excellent, and very polished, performances on French horn, violin, flute, drums, cello and piano, as well as singing. These musicians were those who had won or been highly commended in the advanced category of the annual Music Competition.

Mrs Steensma, Director of Music, opened the evening by explaining more about the music competition. This year saw entries from 140 pupils, playing 175 pieces of music. She said: “If you played all this music back to back, it would add up to a concert which was 12.5 hours long!”

Mrs Steensma added: “The talented musicians here tonight are just the tip of the iceberg of the massive group of students we have who keep the musical heart of Ipswich School beating so strongly. I am amazed by our pupils every day!”

The adjudicator David Stowe, who is the Head of Suffolk County Music Service, clearly faced a difficult conundrum: how to decide between such high quality performances on such different instruments.

Mr Stowe said it was “an absolute pleasure and privilege” to be at the concert, adding: “You all played your hearts out. What you do is fantastic and you probably won’t realise how well you have done to get here.”

He praised each of the musicians in turn about their performances, before it was time to reveal the winner. Mr Stowe explained that his decision was based on his overall feeling for the performance that evening, and he announced Sam Pigram as the Young Musician of the Year 2020.

Congratulations to all the finalists who were: Sam Pigram, French horn; Tallulah Dewson, violin; Katie Evans, flute; Florence Grist, voice; Fred Double, percussion; Sebastian Williams, cello; Edward Baines, piano; Francis Gorham, voice. And many thanks to Mr Stowe for adjudicating and to Mr Leach and Mrs Williams for accompanying the musicians.

The winner Sam Pigram explained more about his musical life.

How did you feel when you were announced as the winner? Surprised and delighted.  I think I am the youngest ever winner, and I’m certainly the first brass player to get the prize, so those things made it extra-special!

How did you choose the pieces you played?
I wanted two contrasting pieces. The Gliere shows the reflective and lyrical side of the horn.  The Strauss is more heroic.

What did you enjoy most about the competition? It’s wonderful to hear all the other performers – people I don’t often hear away from ensembles.  I also really love being accompanied by Mr Leach.  Whatever it is I’m playing, it always sounds better with him at the piano.  I think we’re very lucky at Ipswich School to have him!

What piece of advice would you give to anyone entering next year’s competition?
Plan ahead, practise hard, and enjoy playing your pieces when the time comes. 

What piece of music would you take to a desert island with you? Mozart’s second horn concerto (which was Dennis Brain’s favourite).

What musical instrument would you most like to learn, and why? I would like to play the trumpet, because of what it has to offer as a jazz instrument.

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