Last night saw the launch of the public rounds of this year's Annual Music Competition, with the first Section Final for solo wind and brass. Four performers took to the stage in the Princess Alexandra Hall in front of assembled members, guests, friends, family, and our esteemed judging panel to compete for their place at the Gold Medal Final in May. 

First up was saxophonist Lewis Banks, accompanied by Marianna Abrahamyan, playing works by two living composers, Noda and Larsen. 

Next up, trombonist Kris Garfitt treated us to a programme of Jongen, Weber and Rabe, with Daniel King Smith joining him on piano. Given just 20 minutes each to perform, it is crucial for each musician to choose repertoire that they think best shows off their abilities, both in terms of technique and also of the expression and colour they bring to the music.

After the interval, our youngest performer, 21-year old Matt Glendening began his performance with Penderecki's Prelude for Solo Clarinet, before being joined by pianist John Flinders for works by Finzi, Istvan and Gregson. 

Last, but by no means least, was flautist Emma Halnan, who was again joined by Daniel King Smith on piano. She chose to perform the first of Berio's 18 Sequenzas, each written for a different solo instrument, followed by a fantasy by Taffanel.

As the music drew to a close, the audience were treated to a glass of wine while the judging panel retired to consider their winner. Led by Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, the panel included Michael Collins MBE, Carol Jarvis, Adam Walker, and our own Geoff Parkin. It was no easy feat choosing a winner, as all the musicians showed great ability, thank you to them all for taking part.

After careful consideration, Gavin announced the Section Final winner as Kris Garfitt, who took home the £5,000 prize and a chance to perform at the Gold Medal Final. A huge congratulations to Kris, we'll see you at the Southbank Centre in May!

Next Tuesday, it is the turn of the singers. Previous winners of this section include Jean Rigby mezzo-soprano in 1981, Susan Chilcott soprano in 1986, Adele Paxton mezzo-soprano in 1991, Jonathan Lemalu bass-baritone in 2000, Lucy Crowe soprano in 2002, Jonathan McGovern baritone in 2010 and Morgan Pearse baritone in 2013. It's now been more than five years since a singer won the overall competition, could this be their year? Book your tickets here to find out.


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