Swindon Young Musician of the Year 2017

Report and Pictures

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"She got both feet on the ground and she's burning it down. She got her head in the clouds and she's not backing down. This girl is on fire!"   

This Alicia Keys song was the final entry in the 21st Swindon Young Musician of the Year Competition organised by the Rotary Club of Swindon North.   From beginning to end it was hot stuff as the young musicians and singers gave of their all in the Competition held in February at the Blunsdon House Hotel.

The first entry, the "Little Dog Waltz" (Valse du Petit Chien) composed by Chopin, is perhaps better known as the "Minute Waltz" and the theme tune for the BBC panel show, Just a Minute.  It is said that Chopin got the inspiration for the waltz from watching a small dog chase its tail.  Nearly 200 years later Alicia Keys’ inspiration for "Girl on Fire" was something completely different.  Apparently it came from giving birth to her son, Egypt.

The 27 entry-strong competition was an eclectic mix of music and song and a hugely enjoyable evening for the 200 or so teachers, parents and friends who were watching.  Every competitor had been entered by the schools they variously attend, 8 in all.  They competed in 2 age groups (under 14, and 15 to 18) both groups separated into voice and instrumental categories. 

Helen Pysanczyn had the unenviable task of adjudicating.  In a 30-year teaching career she has worked in schools in Wiltshire and surrounding counties and currently is teaching clarinet and saxophone in schools in Bristol, Calne and Abingdon.  In her spare time she plays principal clarinet in the Marlborough Concert Orchestra and saxophone in The Original Sax Quartet.  She has played both instruments for musical theatre companies including SALOS, TAOS and Stage Struck

Before announcing the final placings Helen provided a helpful critique of every single performance, adding some constructive criticism where she felt necessary.  She advised the youngsters to make sure they always “connect with their audience” and strongly urged those using recorded accompaniment to discard it in favour of a real live accompanist.

The Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Eric Shaw, presented certificates and Holmes Music Shop vouchers to those placed first, second and third in each category.  The Rev Canon Alastair Stevenson was MC.

First place in the Senior Instrumentalist category went to Isobel Haynes from St John’s School, Marlborough, for her beautiful rendition of Klengel’s “Adante” on the cello.  Caitlin MacClay of Bradon Forest School was awarded the top vocalist spot for her delightful interpretation of the Witman and Shaiman composition "Secondhand White Baby Grand".

Both girls are now eligible for the Rotary Area Finals in Cheltenham where they will compete against musicians from a wider area.

Both top places in the Junior Section went to pupils from Isambard Community School.  Kamyab Ghyabi played Praeludium from Greig’s Holberg Suite on the piano; Phoebe Maddison sang “Miss You” from "Ghost the Musical”.  (Phoebe's our West End girl - Swindon Advertiser)

Caitlin MacClay and Kamyab Ghyabi will be making guest performances at the Rotary Club Concert with Pegasus Brass on 25th February in Highworth, and it is hoped they will also be joined by two others from the Competition as well.  Click here for further details of the Pegasus Brass Concert.

For the full results see related pages on the right.

Teenagers Hit the Right Notes - Swindon Advertiser

The Swindon Young Musician of the Year Competition has been organised by the Rotary Club of Swindon North on an annual basis since 1997 and increases in popularity each year.  In the very first competition Anthony Williams from Highworth came 3rd in the Senior Section on Double Bass.  He is now a successful professional Double Bass player, currently in the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  In 2011 he returned to his home town to host a recital concert for the Rotary Club's charities.

The Rotary Club acknowledges with thanks the financial and practical support of the Swindon Music Co-operative, the Swindon Music Trust, the Piano Gallery of Faringdon, the Blunsdon House Hotel and last but certainly not least all the music teachers from the participating schools, without which the Competition would not be possible.

Unfortunately the Swindon Young Musician of the Year Competition will not take place in 2018 due to the major refurbishment of the Garden Room in the Blunsdon House Hotel.  It is hoped that the Competition will resume in 2019.