Tuesday, September 29, 2009

at the Brentwood Theatre


Edward Wellman, who presents the Monday classical music show on Phoenix, was master of ceremonies and accompanist for this, their first ever Young Classical Musician competition.

The nine finalists we heard made up a varied and entertaining programme.

There were three pianists, playing a barely adequate instrument: Sasha Millwood, who gave us a spectacular sequence of Chopin and Rachmaninov, William Church, who followed a poised Bach Prelude and Fugue with a solemn Brahms romance. The youngest pianist, Jack Angell, was in many ways the most engaging, with his brief set of a Bach menuet, a Carnival Elephant and a cheeky Top Cat.

Sam Hayday, cornet, played one of those showy variations brass players love, while the overall winner on the night, flautist Sarah Woollatt, from the Ursuline School, played a movement from Reineke's Undine.

Even Classic FM don't play musical theatre, but for some reason all the vocalists sang numbers written with a big voice and a microphone in mind. By far the most successful was Rosie Bloom, confidently delivering a number from Phantom.

A great strength of the evening was the panel of judges
– Michael Frith, Benjamin Grosvenor and Philippa Penkett, who gave instant feedback and advice to the young competitors. Breathe, don't be afraid to ham it up, and wear a dress that covers your trembling knees …

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