South Ayrshire musicians shine on national stage with woodwind ensemble win

Star musicians from a South Ayrshire school have taken a top prize on the national stage.

Belmont Academy's Woodwind Ensemble were crowned 2024 winners of the Scottish Young Musicians Ensemble of the Year event, which was open to ensembles playing any genre or grouping of instruments. In another success for the region, South Ayrshire were runners up in the Brass Ensemble of the Year.

A total of 23 ensembles entered this year’s competition, with seven competing in the brass competition and 16 in the open competition. One ensemble in each category (Ensemble of the Year and Brass Ensemble of the Year) was selected to represent each local authority, recognised music organisation, and Scotland's independent schools. All members had to be school students in Scotland but there was no minimum age or standard.

The chosen entries then submitted videos of their performances to a panel of esteemed adjudicators led by Matthew Chinn, Associate Head of the Junior Conservatoire at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Ruth Morley, flute player with Red Note Ensemble, renowned percussionist Calum Huggan and Rachel Cooper, violin tutor who works with The Benedetti Foundation.

Belmont's ensemble will now receive a cash prize to further their musical experiences, a Maid of Morven Trophy designed by Alexander Stoddart, The King’s Sculptor in Ordinary, and an all-expenses paid trip to play a prime slot at the Solo Performer of the Year National Final at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on Sunday, May 26 2024.

Matthew Chinn, chief adjudicator for Open Ensemble and Brass Ensemble of the Year, said: "The SYM Ensemble competition panel were delighted to receive a record number of entries, from across the length and breadth of Scotland, for both the Brass and Open Ensemble classes.

"The quality of submissions were all of an extremely high standard with a diverse range of instrumentation/ensemble types entered: big band, brass, guitar, jazz, percussion, and strings, which is testament to the great work and variety of offering taking place each week in schools and local communities across Scotland.

"As well as being skilled individual performers, the winning ensembles of both classes demonstrated impressive communication skills with one another, coupled with a cohesive understanding of balance, intonation, and musical character required throughout their carefully selected programmes.

"The panel would like to congratulate every ensemble for their fantastic performances and look forward to welcoming this year’s winners of the Brass and Open Ensemble classes to the RCS on Sunday, May 26 to perform during the SYM Solo Performer of the Year competition.”

Shonagh Stevenson, Music Service Manager at South Ayrshire Council, said: “We are delighted to win this award and so proud of the hard work the young musicians and their instructor, Mr Gonzalez, have put in. They are thrilled to be winners and look forward to performing at the RCS later this month.”

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