The Jack Cook Strings Performance on Wednesday 24th January was the third of this year’s competition performances leading to the Helen Wareham Final on Friday 2nd March.

The juniors presented a varied programme showcasing all four instruments of the violin family. There was much to commend in all the performances, and the young musicians showed real technical promise and emerging expressive musicianship.

Judges, Ruth Williams and Marcus Pashley, awarded first prize to Lina Mazzone (violin) for her accomplished performance of John Williams’ emotionally intense theme to ‘Schindler’s List’, played from memory. Noah Charlesworth (cello) achieved second prize for his rendition of Fauré’s sad and sombre ‘Elegy’, and Jess Church (double bass) won third prize for her bold and characterful reading of Merle’s ‘Caballero’.

The structure of the competition highlighted the progression from junior to senior year groups, and the level of musical maturity and technical dexterity demonstrated by this year’s senior performers will surely have inspired their younger counterparts.

The three performers selected to progress to the final, all violinists, were Millie Mazzone, Elwyn Rowlands and Daisy Roberts. Millie impressed the judges with her musically mature performance, from memory, of three of Prokofiev’s ‘Five Melodies’, whilst Elwyn and Daisy wowed with their technical pyrotechnics in pieces by Wieniawski and Bohm respectively.

Congratulations to all the performers who contributed to this wonderful evening of string music, to their fantastic accompanists, Marie Ward 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.