Cellist Ellen Baumring-Gledhill has reached the strings category finals of BBC Young Musician 2020, which will be broadcast on Sunday on BBC4.
Ellen, the only cellist in the category, turned 18 on the same day as the finals, which took place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff in December.
To reach the strings finals she first had to see off competition from 26 other hopefuls in the first round. She was then up against four other string players in the final.
This is not the first time that Ellen, who lives in Edgware and attends Mill Hill School as well as Junior Guildhall, has entered the competition: “I first entered back in 2018 – to have a try and to get a feel for what it was like.
"Then I went for it again in 2020. I went in playing my very best. I was so surprised to make it to this stage,” said the talented young cellist.
The category finals were filmed before the lockdown and Ellen was glad to have the support of friends and family. “As soon as the director of musical performance at Mill Hill heard I was through to the strings category final he made a plan to take the school minibus with my friends and some staff to support me.
“And that is exactly what they did!”
Her family were also present, as well as Dr Oliver Gledhill, her uncle, who has been her teacher from the beginning. “It’s such a special bond we have, the fact that he’s been teaching me for all this time. I’ve loved it. It was really nice to feel the support in the room,” she said.
Ellen chose to perform Ballade by Josef Suk and Pampeana No 2 by Alberto Ginastera. “The Ballade has a story-telling aspect to it that I felt I could communicate to the audience. The Pampeana is such an exciting piece to play, it’s full of technical aspects — I really enjoyed the challenge of learning it,” she said.
Did she have any backstage jitters? “I was a bit nervous but as soon as I was out there it was fine, I just got lost in my music.”
A talent for strings runs in her family. “I’m the fifth generation of string players.”
Apart from her recent success, she has won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, which she will take up in September.
In 2016 Ellen became the Emunah Young Musician of the Year, something that she’s still proud of to this day. “That was quite a turning point in my musical journey, because after that competition I thought that I could be doing this for the rest of my life.”