Entries now open for NI Young Musician of the Year competition

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The search is on to find Northern Ireland’s next Young Musician of the Year, organised by the Rotary Club of Comber.

Now in its 25th year, this prestigious event is open to all young musicians from 11 to 19.

Organiser Edwin Gray commented: “In addition to enhanced prize money, for the first time this year we are offering performance opportunities as an extra.

“It’s a great opportunity for young instrumentalists and singers to develop their confidence and skills.”

The event will again take place in Strathearn School and the adjudicator will be Richard Yarr, senior classical music producer at BBC Northern Ireland.

Preliminary heats will take place on March 18 and 25, followed by the final on April 1.

Entries close on January 31.

Said Edwin: “Why not have a go?

“No matter how you get on, you will always remember the experience – and the benefit – of performing in public and meeting other musicians in your age-group. “Many former winners who are now enjoying a successful career in music greatly appreciate what the competition has given them, as you can see on our new website.”

Every year since 1993 the Rotary Club of Comber has organised the NI Young Musician of the Year event to encourage aspiring young musicians to improve their performance skills in public.

In the early years, the Club used the event to raise funds for local charities. Of the £85,000 total the main beneficiaries have been the NSPCC, the Cancer Fund for Children and the NI Music Therapy Trust.

Among their distinguished adjudicators have been John Anderson, Leonard Pugh, Philip Hammond, Stephanie Hughes, Gillian Morrow, Declan McGovern, Simon Taylor, Robin Hewitt, David Drinkell, Michael McCracken, Richard Yarr and Edwin Gray.

The organisers have taken the finals of the contest to splendid venues such as Belfast Castle, Malone House and the Harty Room at Queen’s. Most recently, Strathearn School has hosted both heats and finals.

Well over 1000 young musicians have appeared from all over the province, singing or playing everything from a tin whistle to a tuba, impressing audiences and adjudicators alike. Many have gone on to successful musical careers, while those who have chosen alternative paths have a priceless gift to entertain others. Winners and runners-up have included a guitarist, a bagpiper and two percussionists, and have appeared on UTV and on Radio Ulster’s “Sounds Classical”.

For more details, visit www.northernirelandyoungmusiciancompetition.co.uk