Despite lockdown restrictions, this year’s Stoke-on-Trent Young Musician 2021 winners were crowned on Friday 18 June during a captivating live final.
Organised by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council run City Music Service the competition was split into two categories – junior, up to and including year eight and senior, year nine upwards. The six classes for entries were: strings (orchestral), woodwind (orchestral and band), brass (orchestral and band) piano, voice, and an open class (percussion, keyboard, guitar, recorder, and other instruments).
Crowned the Junior Young Musician 2021 was Ben Foxcroft who performed on the drum kit and attends Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy. St Joseph’s College student Jeremy Bailey claimed the Senior Young Musician 2021 title for his performance on the flute.
Junior Young Musician winner Ben Foxcroft said: “Not only was participating in Young Musician of the Year 2021 a fantastic experience, but winning it was extraordinary. Thank you Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service for all you’ve taught me.”
Senior Young Musician winner Jeremy Bailey said: “I am so pleased I won the competition and was thrilled to take part in the event and hear live performances again. My family and I really enjoyed the evening.”
Back in January schools and colleges across the city were encouraged to put their top talent forward. Pupils submitted video performances due to lockdown restrictions at the time. 54 pupils entered and six pupils were selected for the junior final and five pupils were selected for the senior final.
The relaxation of restrictions meant the live final could go ahead as planned. Despite it being a much smaller event than usual the adjudicators praised all the pupils for their performances after what has been a very difficult and challenging year. Finalists performed in a live final despite not having the chance to perform to an audience for at least 18 months.
All attendees adhered to social distancing guidance and the audience was limited to immediate family bubbles. Two separate finals were held one for the junior finalists and one for the senior finalists.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Our annual Young Musician of the Year competition is a great chance for young musicians to perform, improve their self-confidence and most importantly enjoy themselves and have some fun. We have some very talented young people in this city and for some of them this type of competition could be the platform they need to propel them towards a successful career within music. It’s all about giving our youngsters the opportunity to shine. Congratulations to winners Ben and Jeremy and well done to all the finalists.
“This was the City Music Service’s first live concert since December 2019; it is fantastic that we can now hear live music again. The City Music Service make an invaluable contribution to young people in the city.”