We’re delighted that three current and three former Chetham’s students have reached the Category Finals of the BBC Young Musician competition 2018.
Pianists Mariam Loladze-Meredith, 15, and Elias Ackerley, 16, will be joined by trombonist Isobel Daws, 18, for the televised rounds, which will be shown on BBC Four during March. For Isobel, the competition will also be a reunion – fellow trombonists Sam Dye and Michaias Berlouis, who finished Year 13 at Chetham’s last year, have also reached the semi-final stage. Meanwhile, another former student, Elodie Chousmer-Howelles, will appear in the strings competition
Mariam, from Stockport, joined Chetham’s in 2010, aged just 8. Alongside her musical studies with Dina Parakhina, she is now preparing for GCSEs, and next week will compete in Chetham’s Concerto Auditions, in which soloists are selected for Symphony Orchestra concerts in 2018-19. Earlier this year she joined a trip to Uganda with The Commonwealth Resounds, collaborating with young musicians in schools and orphanages around Kampala. Mariam is half Georgian, and hopes that the BBC crew will be able to travel to Georgia with her to meet her grandmother over half term.
Elias, our second pianist, joined Chetham’s in Year 9, in 2014. He studies with Head of Keyboard Dr Murray McLachlan, and has given several high profile concert performances with the school, as well as singing with the Chamber Choir. In 2017 he was both overall winner of the Scottish International Piano Competition Youth Prize, and Junior Winner of the Eisteddfod. Elias’ family live in Wrexham, and he’s in his first year of Sixth Form, taking A-levels in Music and History.
Isobel is in her second and final year at Chetham’s, having joined for the Sixth Form in 2016 to study with Katy Jones. She’s had a series of successes since then; first as one of the winners of the School’s Concerto Auditions last year, which means she’ll give a solo performance of Tomasi’s Trombone Concerto with Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra on Friday 16 February. In April 2017, she won the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award, playing Gordon Langford’s Rhapsody for Trombone live with the Foden’s Brass Band. Alongside the BBC rounds this spring she’ll be preparing for A-levels in Music and English Literature, before bidding the school farewell in July.
Sam Dye, 18, will be familiar to regular BBCYM audiences as a semi-finalist in 2016. From Leicestershire, he’s an alumnus of both Chetham’s and the National Youth Orchestra, and is now studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His former classmate Michaias Berlouis, originally from Northamptonshire, is now studying bass trombone at the Royal Academy of Music after joining Chetham’s in the Sixth Form. In the string finals, Elodie Chousmer-Howelles, 19, who studied at Chetham’s from the age of ten, will perform on the violin; she’s now part of the Junior Royal Academy of Music, is a London Philharmonic Orchetsra Junior Artist, and performs with the Chineke! Orchestra.
This year’s quintet maintain Chetham’s illustrious history in the Young Musician competition. In 2016, five semi-finalists included pianist Jackie Campbell, who won the Keyboard Category and received the Walter Todd Bursary for the most promising young musician. The competition’s two youngest ever winners, Peter Moore and Jennifer Pike, were both just 12 when they lifted the overall prize in 2008 and 2002, respectively. Other successes include saxophonist Alexander Bone, who won the inaugural Young Jazz Musician award in 2014, and who returns to Chetham’s to give a free Lunchtime Concert alongside former tutors Steve Berry and Les Chisnall on Friday 9 March; pianist Anna Markland, the first female winner, in 1982; and cellist Guy Johnston in 2000, who overcame a broken cello string to win the competition and who maintains a strong relationship with the school, paying us a visit in December to perform with Manchester Collective in The Stoller Hall and to lead a masterclass for current string players.
As ever, we’re delighted that judges were able to recognise the qualities we see every day in young musicians at Chetham’s. Over 30 of our students – 10% of the entire School! – reached the second round this year, and we’re sure that the entire Chetham’s community of students past and present will be cheering on our players – hopefully, all the way to the final in May.