The 2018 Harrogate Competitive Festival for Music, Speech and Drama came to a conclusion at the weekend.
Below is a list of the winners for 2018.
Young Musician of the Festival: Yuan Xu
Brass Solo: Grades 1 & 2: Lydia Bousfield, Cawood; Grades 3 & 4: Lydia Bousfield, Cawood; Grades 5 & 6: Henry Porter, York; Grades 7 & 8: Isaac Bousfield, Cawood; Open: Isaac Bousfield, Cawood; Brass Championship: : Isaac Bousfield, Cawood; Brass / Concert Band Entertainment: Open: Foxhill Brass Band, Bradford; Novice Choir: Year 2 & under: Rossett Acre Choir, Harrogate; Year 6 & under: Oatlands Junior School Choir by Jack Brierley, Harrogate; Choir from smaller schools: Roll not to exceed 120: Follifoot CE Primary School Choir, Pannal; Choir: Year 6 & under: Moorlands School Choir, Leeds; Year 9 & under: HLC Gallery Choir, Harrogate; Chamber choir class: Open: HLC Chamber Choir, Harrogate; Year 13 & under: HLC Chapel Choir, Harrogate; Church Music - SS Choir: Open: HLC Chapel Choir, Harrogate; Church Music - SATB Choir: Open: Choir of St John the Baptist Church, Knaresborough; Open - Female, Male & Mixed over 16 members: Choral Challenge Class: Open: HLC Chapel Choir, Harrogate; Barbershop: Open: UNIQUE, Bradford; Vocal Duet: Year 6 & under: Lulu Raw and Poppy Freeley, Harrogate; Jazz Combo: Open: GSAL Jazz Ensemble, Leeds; Youth/School Orchestra: Year 6 & under: Highfield Prep School Orchestra, Harrogate; Percussion or Drum Kit: Year 6 & under: Joseph Lepine, Harrogate; Percussion: Year 8 & under: Victoria Alvarez, Follifoot; Drum Kit: Year 8 & under: Jack Littlewood, Leeds; Year 13 & under: Jack Littlewood, Leeds; Percussion and Drum Kit Championship: Year 13 & under: Jack Littlewood, Leeds; Percussion Ensemble: Year 8 & under: Starbeck School Djembe Drumming Team, Harrogate; Solo Singing: Girls - Year 8 & 9 - Grades 3 to 5: Daniella Granillo, Harrogate; Girls Year 13 & under: Niamh Robinson-Wakefield, Knaresborough; Boys Year 13 & under: Jeff Wong, Wetherby; Young Musician Singer Competition: Year 13 & under: Niamh Robinson-Wakefield, Knaresborough; Northern Choristers’ Championship: Girls & Boys - Year 11 & under: Hannah Cole, Harrogate.
How the final weekend unfolded
For the first time since the Harrogate Competitive Festival for Music, Speech and Drama moved to its new home at Harrogate High School, it was able to use the new sports hall for choirs.
And last Saturday afternoon saw Foxhill Primary School (Queensbury), Oatlands Junior School and Starbeck School Year six and under novice choirs all performing brilliantly. They were followed by more experienced choirs from Moorlands School (Leeds) and Highfield School and Harrogate Ladies’ College. All received very detailed adjudications from Jacqueline Edwards, a descendant of Dame Clara Butt DBE, the famous English contralto.
Later in the day, Foxhill School, who were making their first visit to the festival, also fielded a young brass band, very well turned out in bright red uniforms. Together with six barbershop groups and a jazz ensemble they received helpful adjudications from Andrew Padmore, who also presided over an evening percussion session in which the festival’s possibly first ever Argentine performer, Victoria Alvarez, played snare drum and xylophone and the Starbeck School Djembe Drumming Team played a traditional African piece, Baga Nina, on their exotic drums.
The Jazz Ensemble from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) were the first ever winners of the new category. The eight players ranging in age from 15-18 performed two pieces: Splanky and The Chicken. Adjudicator Andrew Padmore commended the octet for their “vibrant sound with lots of variety and colour” and their “very good sense of ensemble” as well as individual commitment in the improvised solos.
The highlight of the festival however was the Sunday evening Final Concert, the second half of which featured some of this year’s most memorable performances from across all three weekends. For the first time ever it was hosted by the inimitable Terry Harrison, chairman of the Olde Tyme Music Hall class. He flamboyantly introduced singer Evangeline Barnby, speech and drama champion Vicky Graham and Rossett School Saxophonix and they repeated their previous winning performances.
Rossett School closed the show by leaving the hall one by one, still playing and the final young woman being carried out by her colleague. Very stylish.
This section had followed a special In Memoriam performance by winners of the chamber class, Colin’s Crew Woodwind Ensemble. They played two pieces in memory of their friends Ian Peak and Colin Mathews who died last year.
The first half of the show was the final of the Young Musician of the Festival Competition featuring Jack Littlewood (Leeds: drum kit), together with previous finalists Isaac Bousfield (Cawood: brass), Olivia Robinson (York: woodwind), William Clark (York: strings), Niamh Robinson-Wakefield (Knaresborough: singing) and the eventual winner, 12-year-old Harrogate pianist Yuan Xu.
He started learning the piano at the age of eight and passed the ABRSM grade eight exam last summer. He is currently working towards the music performance diploma (DipABRSM) with Anthea Shepherdson. Yuan brilliantly played “Prelude no. 1” by Gershwin and “Fantaise Impromptu” by Chopin. The chairwoman of the three adjudicators, Marilynne Davies told the expectant audience that he was their unanimous choice.
All the contestants were presented with Family Concert tickets by Dr Roger Higson, of the Ripon Cathedral Concert Society, and Yuan was presented with his trophy by Harrogate Deputy Mayor, Councillor Christine Willoughby.