On Friday 29th January, the Jack Cook Strings class of the Helen Wareham competition wowed their audience with a consistently impressive display of demanding music, making life extremely difficult for the panel of adjudicators (Mr Pashley, Mrs Beddison and Mr Scriven), and punishing their pianist, Mr Saxel, with some of the most notoriously difficult accompaniments in the repertoire.

The juniors opened the evening with a colourful programme demonstrating the expressive breadth of this family of instruments, from theHelen Wareham String Winners 2016_24753 vibrant cross-rhythms of Katherine Carr’s harp playing and Louis Jenkin’s dazzling speed on the classical guitar, to the majestic grandeur of Lizzy Paton’s double bass performance and the beauty and lyricism of the three violinists: Lina Mazzone, Millie Mazzone and Sophie Howard. Sophie Howard additionally conjured up an idyllic pastoral sound-world in her rendition of the Prelude from Vaughan Williams’ Suite for Viola.

The seniors proved themselves to be exemplary role models for their younger peers, both in terms of their virtuosity and their musical maturity. Soo Choi and Harry Moore captivated the audience with their technical wizardry in Kabalevsky’s violin concerto and Monti’s ‘Czardas’ respectively, while Matthew Ludlow and Deescha Chandrasma impressedHelen Wareham String Winners 2016_24754 through the subtlety and sophistication of their stylistic awareness in music by Veracini and Vivaldi. The expressive scope of the performances belied the youthfulness of the musicians, from Olivia Chesser’s impassioned quasi-improvisatory reading of Bloch’s ‘Nigun’, to Zoë Dixon’s turbulent rendering of a Brahms cello sonata movement and Ellen Dixon’s joyous performance of the finale of Franck’s Violin Sonata which brought the evening to a close.

First prize in the junior class was awarded to Millie Mazzone, with second prize going to Katherine Carr and the third prize split between Sophie Howard and Louis Jenkin. Although it is conventional for three senior performers to progress to the final, the adjudicators decided after much deliberation to award places for four finalists: Olivia Chesser, Zoë Dixon, Deescha Chandrasma and Ellen Dixon. Congratulations to all the performers for a wonderful evening of string music!

Kevin Weaver
Head of Strings