I am sure my old colleague, the legendary Pat Dixon, would have been delighted that the competition named after him can now boast 21 entrants of such ability as played for us in the Clive Stevens Recital Hall on November 9th. A review of all 21 will appear in the next edition of ‘The Cranleighan’. Among those who narrowly missed a prize was Hattie Allison, whose saxophone playing was perhaps even more impressive than her bassoon playing: these mature performances were especially affecting.

In the Junior Class, which started at an unprecedented 6.30pm, the high quality of playing led to a joint third prize going to the clarinettists Emily Hill and George Wilkinson. Second place went to Cathy Hobbs for her elegant flute playing and the winner was oboist Christian McCagherty who played Quantz with enormous confidence and sensitive musicianship. Yet again we have young players whose musicianship we can look forward to enjoying for several years to come.

Such a player, whose utterly extraordinary musicianship we have enjoyed for five years now, is Chloё Allison and the three adjudicators, Marcus Pashley, Catherine Beddison and Bob Wilson, had no hesitation in sending Chloё through to the final of this Helen Wareham Competition on both the recorder and the clarinet. Her performances of Vivaldi and Lutoslawski were remarkable even by her own phenomenal standards.  The third performance sent through was Harry McCagherty for an oboe concerto movement by Haydn, played from memory. All the young musicians benefited from the sensitive accompaniments of Marie Ward, Phil Scriven and Richard Saxel, though young clarinettist Justin Browning bravely played a solo blues. The sheer quality of the performances can be gauged from the fact that a stunning performance of Pierné’s ‘Solo de Concert’ for bassoon by Rachel Hurst and saxophonist Giles Rozier-Pamplin (last year’s Helen Wareham winner of the woodwind section) were out of the top three.

PJL