The Jack Cook Strings Performance on Friday 3rd February was the fifth and last of this year’s competition performances leading to the Helen Wareham Final on Friday 3rd March.

The junior section of the competition showed particularly impressive strength and depth this year. At least half of the competitors were post-Grade 8 standard, so adjudicators Marcus Pashley and Catherine Beddison could reasonably expect every performance to demonstrate technical skill and stylistic awareness.

In order to pick out the prize winners, they were required to look beyond these attributes, for clear personal interpretations of the music communicated authoritatively, often pushing to the limits of physical capability and taking positive and exciting risks with the music.

First prize (and a performance in the ‘Encore’ recital) was awarded to Millie Mazzone for her commanding performance of Kreisler’s virtuosic ‘Praeludium und Allegro’. Sophie Howard’s fast-paced technical dexterity in a Bach concerto finale won her second prize, and the third prize was awarded to Lina Mazzone for her beautifully expressive account of the slow movement from Goldmark’s Violin Concerto.

No less inspiring, were the winning performances in the senior section. The three pupils selected to progress to the final were Zoë Dixon on cello, for her compelling and evocative rendering of Holst’s ‘Invocation’, Ally Bayne, for her delicate handling of the ornate glissandi in Gustavson’s ‘Great Day’ for harp, and Deescha Chandrasma, for her striking performance of Cassado’s passionate piece for cello entitled ‘Requiebros’.

Congratulations to all the performers who contributed to this wonderful evening of string music, to their fantastic accompanists, Richard Saxel and Phil Scriven, and to the visiting string teachers for their excellent preparation of the students. I am very much looking forward to hearing the three senior finalists compete again in March.

Kevin Weaver
Head of Strings