The Rotary Club of the South Cotswolds
The Rotary Club of the South Cotswolds

South Cotswolds Rotary Young Musician of the Year 2016

Daniel Harding receiving the winner's trophy

This year’s Final of the annual South Cotswolds Rotary Young Musician of the Year competition was held at Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, on Sunday 21st February, with nine finalists playing ten instruments to an almost packed house of over 200.  Now in its 13th year, the competition is designed to give young people with musical talent an opportunity to play solo in front of a live audience under competition conditions and before a panel of judges. The competition is run by nine Rotary Clubs in the area, chaired for the second year by Doug Hughes of The Rotary Club of the South Cotswolds.


The plaudits from the chair of the panel of judges, Michael Castle, highlighted that this year’s finalists were an extremely talented group of musicians, with comments such as: amazing programme … very rich colours … lovely Baroque sound … good dynamics … lovely resonant sound …your fingers on the guitar looked like a spider spinning a web … phenomenal command of the piano … a truly amazing musician . Each contestant had to display mastery of technique on his or her chosen instrument(s) as well as a feeling for the music and a relationship with the audience.  Four of this year’s contestants reached the 2015 Finals, and Michael Castle commended them on how much their performances had improved in the intervening period.


The Final followed earlier heats: for woodwind and guitar sections, held at Katherine Lady Berkeley’s School in Wotton-under-Edge on 17th January, and for piano and strings sections, held at Westonbirt School on 24th January. Sadly there were no entrants this year to form the brass section of the orchestra.


The winner of the competition was violinist Daniel Harding, a Scholar at Wells Cathedral School who was runner-up in 2015 and third in 2014. He was unique in having composed one of his pieces himself for the 2015 competition, a task he had undertaken for his GCSE exam; this piece he played again for this year’s Final. Daniel’s programme comprised:


                Bach: Concerto No. 1 in A minor, 3rd movement

                Chopin: Nocturne in C sharp minor

     Vivace Capriccioso in A Minor by Daniel Harding


As winner of the competition, Daniel was presented with the Mervyn Norrris Cup plus a cheque for £300. In addition, Daniel has been invited to participate in the District Rotary Young Musician Competition, to be held at Dean Close School in Cheltenham on Sunday 6th March. If successful, he will progress to the Regional and hopefully to the National Rotary Finals. In past years our winners have received many invitations to perform at Rotary and other events, helping to further their musical careers.

The runner-up this year was Edwin Ward, from Rendcomb College, playing piano. Aged just 12, Edwin should have a great future ahead of him. His programme comprised:


              Mozart: Piano Sonata in D major K311, 1st movement     

   Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV847

   Harry Warren: September in the Rain



Third place was awarded to Katie Jenner, from Katherine Lady Berkeley School, on alto saxophone (Katie also played clarinet in the Final). Her alto saxophone programme comprised:


                Ravel: Pièce en forme de Habanera

                Trevor Hold: Tango and Clarleston

                Joszef Balogh: Gipsy Songs


Both Edwin and Katie received cheques for coming second and third, and all of the contestants received certificates of participation in the competition.


There were two additional awards presented:


A special award in memory of Fred Perkin, a founding committee member of South Cotswolds Rotary Young Musician, was made to Eilwen Jones of Cirencester Kingshill School. Although she did not reach the Final the award was made in recognition of the way she coped with her performance on the piano, carrying on to complete her piece which showed the true spirit and essence of a performer in adversity.


The second award, the new Hughes Family Trophy, will be made annually to the most encouraging performer in the strings section. It was presented this year to Ross Rausch from Cirencester College. He plays guitar, a new section which was introduced to this competition in 2015.


While the judges were deliberating, the audience listened to a performance by last year’s winner, Lydia Kenny, on alto saxophone. In 2015 Lydia reached the Rotary National Final, a fact which we as well as Lydia’s previous school, Rednock, are very proud.


The finalists, in order of appearance, were:


              Jasmine Chiswick  ---  Pate’s School   ---   Piano

   Katie Jenner   ---   Katherine Lady Berkeley’s School   ---   Clarinet

   Jemima Price   ---   Westonbirt School   ---   Violin

   Louise Graham   ---   Rednock School   ---   Oboe

   Ross Rausch   ---   Cirencester College   ---   Guitar

   Luke Field   ---   Sir Thomas Rich’s School   ---   Guitar

   Man Ho Hui   ---   Cirencester College   ---   Piano

   Katie Jenner   ---   Katherine Lady Berkeley’s School   ---   Alto Saxophone

   Edwin Ward   ---   Rendcomb College   ---   Piano

   Daniel Harding   ---   Wells Cathedral School   ---   Violin


The panel of judges this year comprised: Michael Castle (chair of judges, piano), Wesley Duggan (woodwind), Chris Finch (guitar) and Dominic Jewel (strings).




Doug Hughes and his team organised and ran a most enjoyable competition, and he was a very good and natural master of ceremonies at the Final.  We hope that the success of the competition will encourage more young musicians to enter next year, and we wish the winner and finalists from this year’s competition every success in their musical futures.