The Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra Young Soloists Competition is back
Created in 1988 thanks to the financial generosity of the 11th Duke of Devonshire towards the orchestra, it gives the winner the opportunity to perform a concerto with the Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra.
The first round will take place on Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd January where the competitors must propose a balanced program (for example two contrasting pieces) of their choice not exceeding 15 minutes in total.
Orchestral instrumentalists must perform at least part of their program with piano accompaniment.
The venue will be the Birley Centre, BN21 4EF, on Saturdays from around 2pm and Sundays from around 12pm, and members of the public are welcome. Just show up the same day.
The final round will take place on Sunday, February 13, during which competitors will have to play one movement from each of the two contrasting concertos, the program not exceeding 20 minutes in total.
No piece chosen in the first round cannot be repeated in the final round.
The competition is open to competitors aged 23 and under on December 31, 2021 and will feature a top prize of £1,000.
Finalist prizes include the Cox Memorial Prize of £650 and the Colonel Howes Prize of £400. Other prizes will also be awarded for the best performance by a competitor under the age of 18.
But as bandleader Graham Jones says, the main first prize is to play a concerto with the orchestra, usually at their summer concert or fall concert.
Graham will chair the four-judge panel – a panel that has seen strong continuity over the decades. The panel includes the expertise of the entire orchestra, including strings, piano and clarinet.
“In judging, we come back to the criteria that this is a concerto competition.
“We are looking for someone who can present a concerto to the public, which is obviously slightly different from someone who can play chamber music.
“It’s not uncommon for judges to say that someone would make a good chamber musician, but not a concert performer.
“We are obviously also looking for someone who can project personality and music.
“For the final we will usually have four people for sure, but quite often five. It depends where we have the dividing line.
Last year was unfortunately a missed year: “It was hard not to have competition in the same way it was very hard not to do concerts etc. It was a really difficult year for the musicians in general and it is also important to say that it was a really difficult year for the students because they did not have the opportunities that they would usually like and which are so crucial for them at this stage of their career.
“We are talking about students from higher music schools, which obviously means covering a variety of nationalities.
“The age limit is 23 and under.
“There is no requirement that they live in Sussex or anything like that, but it is clear that we are getting people from Sussex.
“But basically, those are the major music colleges that we pull from.”