This year’s string section of the Helen Wareham competition was the first to bear the name of Jack Cook, a regular attender of School concerts for many years from his home in the Elmbridge retirement village in Cranleigh.
In the Senior Performance section there were three superb ’cellists: Louisa Golden, Ian Lee and Paul Gallagher with the first two going through to the next round for their Bantock and Shostakovich. The other player sent through was Ben Rudolf, whose unaccompanied Bach violin sonata movement was a major highlight of the evening.
In the Junior section the note range went even lower, with Harrison White playing Marcello with swagger and panache on double bass. A special performance was that of Abby Frett, playing a piece written by her grandfather, who also accompanied her on piano. The other accompanists, Philip Scriven, Marie Ward and Richard Saxel may not have had a familial link to the soloists but all provided the reassurance of consummate professionalism and musical tact that young performers need. Variety came in a delightful jazz violin piece by the great Stephan Grappelli, played by the versatile and talented George Wilkinson.
The prizes (awarded by Catherine Beddinson in unanimous agreement with her two fellow judges) went to Soyoung Choi (third) who played a great old warhorse, Borowski’s ‘Adoration’ with some aptly old-fashioned slides and astonishing accuracy. Second was Olivia Chesser whose Bach sonata (with piano) movement was the most sheerly musical playing of the whole evening in its sense of phrase, line and taste. The winner was Ellen Dixon in a film piece by John Williams which she played from memory and with the perfect poise of a born performer.