Since winning the brass final last year, Annemarie Federle had her A Levels (in Maths, Chemistry and Music) cancelled and started at the Royal Academy of Music in the midst of a global pandemic. After a term of in-person lessons, schools and universities were closed and Federle has been learning online.
Federle comes from Cambridge, where she was previously studying at Hills Road Sixth Form College. She was involved with a lot of ensemble playing with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, a local brass dectet and local student orchestras.
For her programme in the category final, she played Schumann’s Allegro Op. 70, as well as a lyrical piece by Franz Strauss, father of Richard Strauss, and the world premiere of Cetus by her friend Will Harmer.
If she makes it to the final, Federle hopes to play Ruth Gipps’s Horn Concerto.
Thomas Luke won the keyboard final last year and is one of just two semi-finalists still in school, along with percussionist Fang Zhang. Thomas is based in the Isle of Wight and attends the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music in London on Saturdays. Luke has been playing the piano since the age of four, when he learnt and played alongside his grandfather.
In the last year, he has played livestream concerts and sadly had a live concerto performance with the Solent Symphony Orchestra cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdown.
In the keyboard final, Luke played Aragón by the 20th-century Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.
Ewan Millar is the eldest semi-finalist in this year’s line-up. The Reading-born oboist is currently in his second year at St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford, where he is studying music. In pre-COVID times, Millar played in several ensembles at university including the Oxford University Orchestra, a wind quartet, the college choir and a jazz trio.
Fang Zhang studies percussion at Chetham’s School of Music and is from China, where he is a member of the China Youth Percussion Orchestra. He has been studying in the UK since 2018, specialising in the snare drum, marimba, timpani and vibraphone.
Zhang‘s programme for the percussion final featured an arrangement for percussion and piano of Piazzolla’s Libertango, as well as Csaba Zoltán Marján’s Niflheim for solo marimba.
Violinist Coco Tomita was studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey when she won the strings final of BBC Young Musician last year, with the hope of studying at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin in the autumn. After her success in the category final, she was offered an exclusive record deal with Orchid Classics to record her debut album.
While the lockdown was temporarily eased last summer, Tomita was able to perform at a few festivals and concerts across the UK.
Tomita‘s winning programme in the strings final included Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 2, Hubay’s Carmen Fantasie Brillante and Heifetz’s arrangement of Debussy’s Beau Soir.