Emunah Young Musician of the Year: musical youth in concert

The community’s most gifted young musicians take centre stage next month in a competition to find a new star

By Sandy Rashty, February 21, 2013
Rudy Brass

Rudy Brass

Young musicians across the country will gather to compete in the Emunah Young Musician of the Year 2013 final next month — and for some candidates, the competition has taken on a family theme.

Three members of the Sharp family, dubbed the new von Trapps, will perform at the Royal College of Music on March 3. Anoushka Sharp, 13, will give her final cello performance after her “amazing year” as Emunah’s 2012 winner, before siblings Amos and Aviva also take to the stage.

Eleven-year-old Amos is one of the 11 finalists for Musician of the Year 2013, while his younger sister is contending for Most Promising Newcomer. “I was born into a musical household and there’s a photo of me, wearing a nappy, and playing violin with my siblings,” says Aviva. “My teacher told me to not look at the audience when I’m playing — but it’s so tempting to check they’re looking pleased,” adds the nine-year-old who will compete against pianist Hannah Whiteson and saxophonist Sam Sher.

Finalist Amos, who has a place in the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain, says he was “delighted to hear I was through — but my happiness was complete when Aviva was nominated for the newcomer award.”

The competition, run by Emunah, a provider of welfare services for vulnerable students in Israel, is in its third-year. Emunah’s Director Deborah Nathan says it “showcases the fantastic array of talent in our own community. It’s also a chance to help children in Israel who are less fortunate. We set up a music therapy programme in the name of Lord and Lady Sacks and the healing power of music has really helped children with severe emotional needs.”

The finalists, aged eight to 15, were selected from more than 50 candidates. Competition judges include JC Editor Stephen Pollard, opera singer Teresa Cahill, concert pianist Norma Fisher and Malcolm Singer, director of music at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

The winner’s school will receive £500 worth of instruments from music specialist Wienerworld.

Finalist Natasha Fisch, 13, has entered the competition for the first time. The singer “was extremely shocked” when she heard the news. “I have been singing since I was five and would love to be in musical theatre when I grow up,” says the Immanuel College student. Also singing is Yavneh College student James Harvey. The 14-year-old, participating for the third time, says he was “delighted to have another opportunity to perform in concert and go for the winner’s prize.”

Playing the piano are Joshua Daniel, Zach Brandman, Nicolas Veal-Baschwitz and Mark Englander. Joshua, a 14-year-old Hasmonean student who learnt to play by ear, says “This is the first time I have been in a competition, but my teacher organises concerts so that we get used to performing.” Zach, 10, is also a first-time competitor who “loves being on stage with the piano”. He “would love to be a concert pianist”. Nicolas, also 10, has won medals at the North London Music Festival. He says: “I have lessons three times a week and practise when I’m in the mood.”

Mark, 12, from Chetham’s School of Music, does not come from a musical family but practises up to four hours a day. “When I am playing, everything else disappears. It clears my mind.”

University College School student and trumpeter Rudy Brass, 12, plays in three ensembles at school and also recently starting taking jazz lessons at school, while Rafi Kelion, a 15-year-old Merchant Taylors’ pupil has played the flute since he was six-years-old. He says: “When I heard that I had made the finals, I felt happy and relieved — then realised I had to do a lot more practising.”

Violinist Ben Silberstein, 13, from Leeds Grammar School, is “looking forward to coming to London “I’ve been in competitions at school but this was the first time I have been a finalist.”

Annabel Lawrence, 15, a third-time competitor from Cheltenham Ladies’ College says she is looking forward to performing in London again. “It’s a great competition and a great charity.”

The Emunah Young Musician of the Year competition, held in conjunction with the JC, will take place at the Royal College of Music in Kensington, SW7 on March 3. Email alison@emunah.org.uk or call 020-8203 6066. www.emunah.org.uk

Last updated: 3:30pm, February 21 2013