Winners in the Jack Cook Strings Competition 2023

On Wednesday 8th February, we were delighted to welcome back Mr Andrew Fuller to adjudicate this year’s Jack Cook Strings Competition. Andrew taught cello at Cranleigh for many years as well as leading the cello section of the Merriman Concert Orchestra. His busy and varied career has also included the position of Associate Principal with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, teaching at Birmingham Conservatoire, and appearances with many high-profile chamber ensembles.

The evening showcased plenty of much-loved classics from the repertoire such as Fauré’s Élégie (Patrick A.), Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise (Zachary T.), von Paradis’ Sicilienne (Lily D.), Bach’s Gigue from Partita no. 3 and Saint-Saëns’ The Swan (Felix L.), interspersed with stylistic renditions of movements from Baroque sonatas by Vivaldi and Leclair (played by Ava S. and Charlie M.), and a diverse array of character pieces (performed by Charlotte T., Theo S. and Elliot E.). Especially worthy of note, was the light shone on wonderful compositions by female composers by cellists Leah S. and Anise R. (Berceuse by Amy Beach and Nicola LeFanu’s Prelude respectively).

In a field of such diverse instruments, stylistic genres and varying levels of technical/musical demand, it was nigh on impossible to concoct an objective framework with which to compare these young and talented string players. The adjudicator had to rely on his subjective gut instinct (albeit an instinct honed by years of teaching and performing experience at the highest level!). The performances which won out on the night were both of virtuosic show-pieces, full of impressive pyrotechnics.

Congratulations to Anna C. who took the Junior Prize for her performance of de Falla’s Danse Espagnole and Oscar G. who won the Senior Prize for his rendition of Kreisler’s Tambourin Chinois. Thanks and recognition are due for the hard work and preparation of all the performers, their teachers and the two accompanists for the evening: Mr Richard Saxel and Dr Marie Ward.