In 2000, a broken string didn’t stop Guy Johnston from winning. Whilst performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 in E flat, Guy’s A string snapped but by remaining calm and taking a few moments to repair his instrument. Guy began the piece again and went on to win the competition. He is now a professor of cello at the Royal Academy of Music, as well as one of Britain’s leading solo cellists.
ViolinistJennifer Pike wowed the judges in 2002 with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, and at that time was the youngest ever winner at the age of 12. This performance was not only incredible due to her age, but also the speed and accuracy with which she played some of the most difficult passages.
Following her success on BBC Young Musician, Jennifer graduated with First Class Honours from University of Oxford and has become a prolific soloist, playing with major orchestras worldwide.
Eleven-year-old Benjamin Grosvenor competed in 2004, and performed Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major as his chosen piece after which he won the Keyboard final. His performance showed incredible dexterity and understanding of the piece, especially during the second movement with its infamous 3 minute solo without accompaniment.
Benjamin has since received a Classic Brits Critics’ Award and has engagements performing Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, with the Naples Philharmonic this month.
2008: Peter Moore (trombone)
Peter Moore took Jennifer Pike’s title as the youngest person ever to win the competition being just a few months younger when he won. In 2008 this young trombonist performed the third movement of Tomasi’s Trombone Concerto as his winning piece. Peter’s clarity of tone at such a young age impressed the judges and made this a knockout performance.
At the age 18 Peter was appointed co-principal trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra, and in 2017 he performed Takemitsu’s Fantasma Cantos II with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as well as premiering a new work by Jack White.
In 2012 cellist Laura van der Heijden took the title of BBC Young Musician with her performance of Walton’s Cello Concerto. She managed to make this relatively unknown concerto her own, especially during the virtuosic second movement where she played with passion. Since winning, Laura has had her debut with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and has featured as part of the ‘Cello Unwrapped’ series at Kings Place, London.
Jess Gillam became the first saxophonist to win the Woodwind Final of the competition in 2016, and performed Fujiko by Andy Scott on the soprano saxophone. This performance was outstanding due to Jess’s ability to convey the emotions of the piece to the audience.
Despite the title of BBC Young musician going to cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Jess has made her BBC Proms debut in 2017 at the Royal Albert Hall and has released several albums with Decca.