Monday, 23 April 2012

Needlemakers’ Wind Final, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

In between all the events of other companies, Wednesday April 18 was a very important date in the Needlemakers’ calendar. It was the final of the Annual Wind Competition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

This competition was introduced by Past Master, Alan Foster, in his year of office 21 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. We were treated to two hours of superb music with a number of pieces I had not heard before.

There were 25 entrants to the competition so it was a great achievement for all four finalists just to reach the final. They played to a packed auditorium with many students and staff there to cheer them on – and a contingent of Needlemakers!

As they say, there can only be one winner and this was Luke Russell (flute) with a very well balanced and movingly played programme, accompanied by Jan Willem Nelleke on the piano. Luke was born in Bath and began playing the flute aged 8. He graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in July 2010 with a 1st Class BMus(Hons) degree, having been awarded a Major Scholarship to study there in 2006. During his time at the college, Luke won the Solo Woodwind Prize and places on the Welsh National Opera Placement scheme (2008-2010) and BBC National Orchestra of Wales Side-By-Side scheme (2009).

Luke auditioned for Postgraduate study and was offered scholarships to three major London conservatoires and chose the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on the internationally renowned Orchestral Training Course in September 2010.

So as you can see we were treated to great music – and Luke is definitely someone to watch! Alan Foster presented the prize and reminded everyone there of the origins of the competition. May it go from strength to strength.

The adjudicator was Tim Lines, who is professor of clarinet at both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music.

The Needlemakers entertain the finalists and partners and the staff to dinner at a local restaurant afterwards. It is a great opportunity to learn more about the musicians and their ambitions. I was particularly interested to hear from Tim Lines about how many more opportunities, outside the mainstream orchestras, there are for musicians these days. This is very encouraging as it is a tough and very competitive field.

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