UK musicians triumph at Israeli competion

By Jessica Elgot, July 17, 2009
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It was a night to remember for two young classical music ensembles from the UK who scooped first and second prize at the 2nd International Israeli Music Competition.

The winners beat off competition for the title from six finalists out of 70 musicians from 25 different countries, whose ages ranged from 10 to 47.

Performing at the final of the competition, organised by Jewish cultural charity Spiro Ark, at the Britten Theatre at the Royal College of Music, wind quintet The London Myriad Ensemble won the nine judges over with their spritely rendition of Tzvi Avni’s Woodwind Quintet to claim first prize and a solo performance at the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre in November.

The quintet, who are Julie Groves on flute, Jenni Britton on oboe, Nadia Wilson on clarinet, Susanna Dias on bassoon and Paul Cott on French horn, specialise in chamber music, but also have a love of modern compositions.

Nadia explained how she became involved with Israeli music last year at the competition when she entered as a soloist: "I love the freedom of this kind of music. It really gives you the oppertunity to be flexible."

Julie added: "It's such a new experience for us, it's really different to what we would usually play. We'd love to play more Israeli music, it would be great to do a tour."

The group, who have been playing together for five years since a love of chamber music brought them together at college, will play their Tzvi Avni at their Purcell Room performance.

The ensemble was closely matched by second prize-winners, who are also UK-based, although members of The Browdowski Quartet come from England, Wales, Scotland and Germany. The string quartet gave a moving performance of Tzvi Avni’s String Quartet No 3.

The UK’s other representative, solo cellist James Barralet was placed fifth for his performance of Three Songs without Music by P. Ben Haim.

The judges, who included composer Julian Dawes, Sarah Aaronson, the director of the London International Orchestra and violinist John Bradbury, the ex-leader of the BBC concert orchestra, also saw Israeli music performances from Ireland’s Roisin Walters on violin, Sacha Gynyuk from the Ukraine on piano and Russian Maksim Beitans on cello.

Chairman of the judges, Sagi Hartov, of Spiro Ark said it had been “an amazing evening”.

He added: “Of course, I’m disappointed there were no Israelis in the final, but the competition is very fair and only the best will win.”

This year Spiro Ark also hosted a competition to honour Swiss-born Jewish composer Ernst Bloch, the Bloch Competition, and the winner was Irish violinist Roisin Walters, who was also placed fourth in the Israeli Music Competition.

She too will give a solo performance at the Purcell Room in November.

Last updated: 3:51pm, July 17 2009