This year’s UK Young Theatre Organist of the Year Competition, presented by the London and South of England Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, was held on the fabulous 3/12 Wurlitzer at the Musical Museum, Kew Bridge on Sunday 22nd November.
The large and appreciative audience were presented with a wonderful afternoon of great music from the entrants, the youngest of whom was 14 and the eldest 17. Entrants have a choice as to whether to play two contrasting pieces of music, one a concert opener and one a ballad, or to play a selection of music from a show. The afternoon included rousing renditions of If My Friends Could See Me Now and The Dambusters, as well as show medleys from The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera and 42nd Street.
The Judges this year were Richard Cole, Richard Hills FRCO and Len Rawle MBE, who acted as Chairman of Judges and gave an encouraging summary of their thoughts about the entries. Whilst they were deliberating, last year’s winner, Thomas Pickering, showed what a fine player he is by performing an interlude at the Wurlitzer, and then Holly Eldridge, entrant Robert Eldridge's sister, entertained us with a beautiful Christmas jazz number at the Steinway grand piano.
Congratulations to the winner, Declan Poole from Millom, Cumbria, for his brilliant rendition of music from Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, and to runners-up, Jamyma-May Hanson from Brede, East Sussex, and Lewis Scott from Hull.
The judges awarded the Christie Cup for the player showing most potential for the future to Robert Eldridge, a young man relatively new to the organ scene but already demonstrating huge promise and great musicality. Following receipt of written submissions from last year’s entrants about their musical activities since appearing last year, the committee awarded the Dean Herrick Memorial Trophy to Lewis Scott, as not only has he been working hard to improve his performance standard but he has also been very active in presenting the organ to the general public, including playing for a pantomime, for charity dances and in rest homes.
Plans are already being made for next year’s Young Theatre Organist of the Year contest. If you know any young organists who will be aged 18 or under next summer who may be interested, whether they currently play electronic or theatre organ, please contact ATOS UK Trustee, Michael Wooldridge, himself a former winner and now organiser of the event, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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