It was a real pleasure to be asked to join the Adjudication Panel, with Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey and John Traill, of the Oxfordshire Junior Concerto Competition on 4 February. Adeptly accompanied by the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra conducted by John Traill, three talented finalists performed to a full hall at the Centre for Music.

The Competition is a joint venture between the the Oxfordshire County Music Service (Director, Emma Coulthard) and the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra (Music Director, Marios Papadopoulos; Education Officer, William Emery). It has enabled many talented young musicians in Oxfordshire to gain valuable experience at a high level.

The competition programme began with the first movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto played with real authority and technical command by Tabitha Appel. Xander Quinney followed with the last movement of Richard Strauss’ First Horn Concerto, showing great facilitry and natural musicianship. And Josef O’Connor played the Concerto for Alto Saxophone of Paul Creston, interestingly on a century-old saxophone. His rapid articulation and dexterity in this challenging work made a big impression.

All three competitors gave most enjoyable and impressive performances. Congratulations go to Tabitha Appel for winning the first prize of £500 and a chance to perform the concerto at a future OCYO concert. Tabitha received her trophy from OPO Advisory Council member Peggotty Graham.

The evening ended with an exhilarating and expressive solo recital by last year’s winner, Oliver Simpson (cello) accompanied by Nicholas Simpson in works by George Crumb, Brahms and Sarasate.

Tabitha Appel
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