An unusual competition for young musicians

Two Moors Festival founder Penny Adie discusses the magic of this unusual musical festival

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An unusual competition for young musicians
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This year’s Two Moors Young Musicians Competition took place at the end of April. Festival founder Penny Adie looks back on the quality of this year’s competition. 

Most people enter a competition in order to win.  The Two Moors Festival’s Young Musicians scheme, open to all enthusiastic players from across the Southwest, isn’t like that. 

What makes it stand out from the myriad other competitions up and down the country? It certainly isn’t the meagre £300 prize money awarded to each of the four winners, nor is it the opportunity of a shared recital within the main festival that tempts them to enter. It is because we look for four winners instead of one and because we give a mini masterclass to each candidate. There is also the chocolate bar given as a prize at the end of every audition – which, of course, does it!

None of the above factors were planned when the competition was set up. They just happened. The sweets came first because the inaugural event was held over an Easter weekend and it was felt that each entrant should be given an egg to say well done.

The fact that we have several winners is a great confidence booster when it comes to the audition process. It takes the pressure off that striving-to-be-THE-winner feeling, therefore making the players relax and perform much better than they would within the traditional environment.

The masterclass is perhaps the most interesting as it is gives the panel of four esteemed artists a clear idea of what each player is capable of. The adjudicators may comment on the best place to stand; suggest a more appropriate height of a music stand and make better contact with the accompanist. The best of the lot however, is when the stand is removed altogether and a few bars are tried out without a score. The participants always play much better! Teachers and performers are only too grateful for the help as it’s given in a friendly way with a great deal of humour.  

The entry requirements are simple. Candidates must be aged 18 and under, attend school and/or live in the Southwest. The standard is a minimum of Grade 7 ABRSM. There are two rounds: the first sends 20 onto the finals. The adjudicators are free to write anything they like on the mark-sheet as the comments are précised into one document and then distributed. Years ago, our administrator was left with the job of deciphering a very astute and encouraging script that had the addition of the judge’s drawings of sheep. 

The standard is phenomenally high with several finalists going on to conservatoire with major scholarships or who go to one of the top universities – singers often opt to read any subject other than music before going to college as a post-graduate. Several past winners are now successful professional artists.

The winners in 2018 comprise a pianist, double bass player, soprano and saxophonist. It so happens that this is a random mix but it could happen that all four winners played the same instrument!

The fact that parents are prepared to drive from as far afield as Gloucester, Bournemouth and Truro for no more than twenty minutes audition says it all.

The Two Moors Festival takes place from 12 to 21 October 2018.

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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