Swindon Young Musician of the Year 2016

Swindon Young Musician of the Year Competition 2016

“Performances to move the heart”

25 competitors entered the Rotary Club's 20th Swindon Young Musician Competition.  Entered by their schools the talented young musicians competed against each other in 2 age groups, further divided into voice and instrumental categories.  In front of a 100-strong audience mainly made up of parents, family and friends, all the youngsters performed to the very best of their ability making it a fabulous evening of entertainment.

Sarah Jefferies, a British and International Federation of Festivals adjudicator, had the unenviable task of marking the competitors.  Sarah attended the Royal Academy of Music in 1981 and since then has sung in festivals and oratorios all over the country.  She has worked for the Opera de Lyon and has recorded Madame Butterfly and Shoenberg's Moses and Aaron under the baton of the Halle's Kent Nagano.  In 1990 she recorded Carmina Burana with the LPO.  Currently she is a singing teacher at Marlborough College. 

The Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Andrew Bennett, presented certificates and Holmes Music Shop vouchers to those placed first, second and third.  Once again, the Rev Geoff Gleed, choirmaster and organist at Swindon's Emmanuel United Reform Church for more than 40 years, was the MC. 

At the end of each section Sarah Jefferies gave a short critique of every performance in an amusing yet very helpful way.  She remarked on the very high standard shown by all the competitors and said they should all be very proud of themselves.  “Tonight has been so lovely,” she added, “some of the performances have really moved my heart.”

The winner of the Senior Instrumentalist category was Estelle Cobbson of St Joseph’s Catholic College with a near flawless performance of Mingxin Du's "Shui Cao Wu" on piano.  Matilda Wale who attends Kingsdown School sang "Vilia" and won the top vocalist spot for her delightful rendition of the Franz Lehar composition.   Both girls are now eligible for the Rotary Area Finals in Cheltenham where they will compete against the musicians from a wider area.

Rosie Storey from Highworth Warneford School was judged to be the best instrumentalist in the Junior category with a moving performance of Corelli’s "Preludio" on her oboe.  Maisey Fry of Nova Hreod Academy sang Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall" from the film "Spectre" and won the Junior vocalist category.

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 it increases in popularity every 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 and the Blunsdon House Hotel, without which the Competition would not be possible.

The next Swindon Young Musician of the Year Competition is on 5th February 2017


Senior Group (age 15-17 years)


1st - Estelle Cobbson, St Joseph's Catholic College, playing Shui Cao Wu by Mingxin Du on piano

2nd - Nayan Mistry, Highworth Warneford School, playing Sugarloaf Mountain by Gary Ryan on classical guitar

3rd - Erin Donnelly, Bradon Forest School, playing Song For My Father by Horace Silver on Saxophone


1st - Matilda Wale, Kingsdown School, singing Vilia by Franz Lehar

2nd - Dominic Jackson, Nova Hreod Academy, singing I see Fire by Ed Sheeran

Estelle Cobbson and Matilda Wale are eligible for entry in the Rotary (District 1100) Young Musicians Final to be held in Cheltenham in March 2016.   Rotary District 1100 includes 69 Rotary Clubs based in Worcester, Bristol, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon and surrounding areas.

Junior Group (under 15 years)


1st - Rosie Storey, Highworth Warneford School, playing Prelude by Corelli on oboe

Joint 2nd
- Sebastian Scanlon, St Joseph's Catholic College, playing El roble by Juan Hidalgo on classical guitar
- Joseph Lenihan, Kingsdown School, playing Siciliano by J.S.Bach on flute

Joint 3rd
- Benjamin Coombs, Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, playing Yardbird Suite by Charlie Parker on Alto Saxophone
- Kamyah Ghyabi, Isambard Community School, playing Allegro di molto by C.P.E.Bach on Piano


1st - Maisey Fry, Nova Hreod Academy, singing Writing's on the Wall by Sam Smith (from Spectre)

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