The first category final of this year’s BBC Young Musician competition took place this weekend with pianists taking to the stage in the keyboard final.
16-year-old Thomas Luke from the Isle of Wight won the keyboard final and will be moving ahead to the semi-final. On weekends, he studies at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
He has been playing the piano since the age of four, when he learnt and played alongside his grandfather. In the keyboard final this weekend, he performed Aragón by the 20th-century Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.
The other keyboard finalists included two Wells Cathedral School students: 16-year-old Sejin Yoon from South Korea, who performed Beethoven’s 32 Variations in C minor, and 15-year-old Bridget Yee, who played Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’enfant Jésus, Noël.
They were joined by 17-year-old Harvey Lin, who also made it to the keyboard finals in 2016 aged just 13. He is a scholarship student at Eton College, where he also learns the harpsichord, organ and violin. He performed the Toccata from Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin in last night’s category final. The youngest finalist, 11-year-old Jacky Zhang, attends King’s College School in Cambridge and whose programme included Liszt’s fiendishly difficult solo piano arrangement of Schubert’s Erlkönig, and was praised for his octave control.
Organist and conductor Anna Lapwood presented the keyboard final for the first time this year, joined by 2016 finalist Jess Gillam, who will be hosting an ‘In Conversation’ series throughout the series. During the keyboard final, she met with pianist Lauren Zhang, who won the competition in 2018 with her performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
The keyboard final was judged by pianists Katya Apekisheva and Peter Donohoe, chaired by Angela Dixon, chief executive of Saffron Hall, who will be overseeing all the category finals.
The woodwind final will be broadcast on Sunday 10 May at 7pm.