MGSO4 festival young musician winners announced

MGSO4 Young Musician Winners

Judges have finally selected the winners of MGSO4 Festival’s Young Musician of The Year competition.

They are:

In the contemporary category:

Winner: Thomas Kavanagh, age 11 (Electric Guitar) Wallace Fields Junior School, Epsom
Runner-up: Alex Hancox, age 16, (Electric Bass) – Year 11 Blenheim School, Epsom

In the classical category:

Winner: Conor Maher, age 16, (Piano) Glyn School, Epsom
Runner-up: Sarah Etherington, age 15, (Cello) City of London Freeman’s School, Ashtead

The overall winner is Thomas Kavanagh.

View Thomas’s winning competition entry on MGSO4 Festival’s Youtube Channel.

First prize winners from each category will each receive music vouchers to the value of £75 and second prize winners will each receive music vouchers to the value of £25. Thomas will also be presented with a Yamaha Revstar RS 320 electric guitar worth £300, courtesy of Yamaha and Epsom’s guitarguitar store.

At just 11 years of age, Thomas’s musical ability hugely impressed judges Nicholas McCarthy, Brenda Rattray and Daniel Hammersley.

Brenda Rattray described Thomas’s entry as a joy to witness. She said: “Thomas has an impressive, wonderfully confident personality with a beautifully engaged attitude, focussed and proud of his scalic passages and passionate solos.”

Brenda also praised winner of the classial category Conor Maher, saying: “Playing by memory and having chosen a playful piece with impetuous rhythms this musician demonstrated his virtuosity, his fingers running up and down and bouncing around the piano with impressive dexterity.”

All four musicians will be performing at MGSO4 Festival this weekend, opening the outdoor stage at Derby Square Live at 12 noon on Sunday 26th June. Prizes will be presented following their performances by judge Nicholas McCarthy and sponsor guitarguitar.

Andy Haldane of sponsor guitarguitar said: “We were pleased to be involved with MGSO4’s Young Musician of the Year competition as we have a store in Epsom, but we had no idea that we’d discover a star of the future. Thomas is already as good as you need to be for any great band and he’s only 11 years old. We have all been blown away. We hope to have Thomas in the store sometime soon to show us how to play the guitar.”

About the winners:

Thomas Kavanagh
Thomas started playing Spanish guitar when he was seven and moved on to electric guitar soon after. He’s interested in a range of styles and he plays rock, metal, blues, jazz and funk. He also enjoys exploring music theory and tends to make the link to maths. He often experiments on the guitar and finds music magical. He has performed regularly at school music events and local venues. Thomas also plays drums.

He likes The Who, Steve Vai, Gary Moore, Joe Satriani, Led Zeppelin and Rory Gallagher.

Judges said: “He played with flair and amazing dexterity. ”

Conor Maher 
Conor is a year 11 student at Glyn School and plays both piano and oboe. He recently joined Epsom Youth Big Band and enjoys the camaraderie of playing alongside other musicians. In his spare time he is an active whitewater kayaker and competes in a national slalom league.

Judges said:”Conor played with maturity and subtle musicality and showed a lovely feel for the of rhythm of the piece as well as considerable technique.”

Sarah Etherington 
Sarah began learning the cello whilst a pupil at Wallace Fields Infant School. Aged nine she was selected for the National Children’s Orchestra and played with them for five years.

She now studies piano and cello at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music and also plays in a variety of other chamber groups and orchestras.

Judges said: “Sarah showed great fluidity in her bow and played with plenty of projection and power.”

Alex Hancox 
Alex first picked up a bass guitar aged seven and within no time had mastered the bass line from The White Stripes song Seven Nation Army. With lessons from Realistic Music Academy her skills grew.

Approximately three years ago she joined Epsom Youth Jazz Ensemble where her talent really flourished and she soon graduated to playing in Epsom Youth Big Band too. She is a dedicated music fanatic with roots in Rock but she enjoys playing and listening to all music inclusive Rap, Swing, Jazz and Classic Soul.

Her musical talents aren’t confined to bass, she can play six string guitar, drums and ukulele. Her talent has secured her a place at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford where she will begin in September.

Judges said: “A great selection of bass riffs imaginatively thrown together.”

About the judges:

Nicholas McCarthy – Epsom-born and the world’s only one-handed concert pianist, currently touring the UK, and appearing at MGSO4 Festival.

Brenda Rattray – international singing supremo and composer, whose clients include The BBC Concert and Symphony Orchestras, The Maze Prison and The English National Opera.

Daniel Hammersley – Principal Cello with Royal Northern Sinfonia, with professional performances also including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Latitude and Glastonbury festivals.