Harlow Young Musician of the Year

This competition is in its 21st year.

The Harlow Young Musician of the Year Competition was the idea of Rtn Keith Hall, member of The Rotary Club of Harlow. Keith was an avid musician, church organist and piano teacher, who was passionate about furthering the musical opportunities available to young people and schoolchildren. Under his energetic leadership, the competition grew from small beginnings to an event that was eagerly awaited by young musicians from a very wide area.

When Keith died in 2003, we wondered how the competition could continue. We were fortunate that Geoff Kay, another energetic Rotarian and member of the Harlow Club, took up the mantle and has carried on organising the annual event with equal enthusiasm.

We have had some outstanding performers and memorable winners. The 2009 winner, Leonid Plashinov-Johnson, a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School, was unable to enter in 2010 as he was performing in a concert at Saffron Walden. His virtuosity on the violin at the age of 13 was quite amazing. This year the overall winner was Aphra Bruce-Jones, an outstanding clarinettist. The Bruce-Jones family have contributed a great deal to the competition over the years, with several siblings taking part.

But less accomplished musicians can also benefit from entering the competition, by gaining practice at performing in front of an audience and by hearing expert criticism and advice.

We are also keen to encourage more entrants from Harlow itself, which is currently under-represented. Teachers- why not enter your pupils?

The competition was for some years held at Burnt Mill Comprehensive School in Harlow, with the finals in the evening at Harlow Playhouse. Subsequently the finals were held at the St John's Arts and Recreation Centre, most successfully. In 2011 the Bank Holiday on Friday 29th April, created for the Royal Wedding, meant that the competition would have been in the middle of a 'long weekend' as it would have a bank holiday on both sides of it. In addition it would have followed the Easter weekend and, in the circumstances, we felt that families would take the opportunity to have a holiday. The risk is that there may well be too significant a drop in numbers competing for us to risk club funds in a competition that could be unviable. The only possible alternative dates were not suitable for a number of those who help us run the day.

In 2012 we had the opportunity to hold the event at the Bishop's Stortford College, with much appreciated assistance from the Rotary Club of Bishop's Stortford, and, despite the attempts of the weather, it was, again, successful.

The competition provides a fantastic opportunity for up and coming musicians and singers to perform before an audience and receive advice from a panel of expert adjudicators.

There are six classes (vocal, piano, strings, woodwind, brass and accordion) in three age groups (under 12, under 16 and under 19), with a