Friday saw the culmination of the 2023 Bloxham Young Musician of the Year competition. Huge congratulations to James, our overall champion, and to Thomas, Anna and Toby who won the Grade 7+, Grades 4-6 and Beginner – Grade 3 rounds.

The Young Musician of the Year contest is a real highlight of the Bloxham musical calendar and this year’s competition was of a particularly high standard. The tough final decisions were made by Old Bloxhamist Will Diggle who, after graduating with first class honours in music from the Royal Academy of Music and a Master’s from the Royal College of Music, is now an opera singer with a successful international career. An enormous variety of musical talent was showcased, with percussion, voice, brass, strings and more all represented.

The Beginner – Grade 3 winner, Toby, sang The Peace Song with a beautiful tone. His projection was fantastic and the judge was impressed by the confidence he exuded whilst singing. Anna, who won the Grade 4 – 6 section, also sang, but she performed The Wizard and I from Wicked, meaning this was a very different kind of performance to Toby’s. Will was captivated by the way Anna told a story through her singing, as well as her engagement with her audience. The Grade 7+ category was won by Thomas who performed Mendelson’s Song Without Words on the piano. This is a challenging piece, which made Thomas’ mature and natural musicality and expression all the more impressive.

The overall winner of the competition was James, who performed Cross Talk on the drums with such outstanding proficiency that he took the whole audience with him on this musical journey. He fully explored all the sounds possible to create on a drumkit, demonstrating great agility and dexterity. James was delighted with his victory, particularly considering how fierce the competition was. He shared that his win “showed to me that diligence in the practice of any skill can eventually be distinguished and recognised amongst a field of talented people. I love playing the drums because I like how it involves the whole body so in some sense you can feel the music physically. To get better at an instrument requires a framework that is translatable to other skills and domains, which is an invaluable skill to have in one’s life.”

Alex Redpath, Director of Music, added that:

It was a terrific evening of top-quality music from our most accomplished musicians. To have such a wide variety of music performed, from Justin Bieber to Mendelson, Debussy to Sam Fender, showed the competition was a brilliant reflection of how every genre of music is celebrated at Bloxham.

Congratulations to everyone who took part, but especially to our winners, James, Thomas, Anna and Toby!