BBC Young Musician, the UK’s leading contest for young classical musicians today launches its latest talent search, which will reach its climax on 18 May 2014 at the Final in Usher Hall, Edinburgh. For the first time, BBC Young Musician adds a new Jazz Award and an Ambassadorial role for violinist Nicola Benedetti, one of its most celebrated former winners. BBC Young Musician will be broadcast extensively on BBC FOUR and BBC Radio 3.

Since the competition’s first outing in 1978 BBC Young Musician has established an enviable reputation for finding outstanding new talent. Just over a year ago, 15 year-old cellist Laura van der Heijden was awarded the title BBC Young Musician 2012 to take her place alongside a star-studded list of former winners and finalists that includes Thomas Adès, Alison Balsom, Thomas Carroll, Natalie Clein, Michael Collins, Nicholas Daniel, Benjamin Grosvenor, Stephen Hough, Emma Johnson, Guy Johnston, Freddy Kempf, Leon McCawley, Lucy Parham, Jennifer Pike, Tom Poster, David Pyatt and Paul Watkins.

It was a memorable night at The Sage Gateshead, with Laura’s remarkable performance of Walton’s Cello Concerto just edging out fellow finalists Yuanfan Yang (piano) and Charlotte Barbour-Condini (recorder). According to Laura, BBC Young Musician is a unique experience: “Every young musician should give it a go, just the experience is worth it."

More than 400 young classically trained instrumentalists entered the 2012 contest and with the introduction of a new Jazz Award for 2014, the expectation is for increased numbers this time around.

Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor Music & Events commented, ‘BBC Young Musician has provided a platform for outstanding young musicians for the past 35 years. It’s become a valuable partner in the development of young talent and has helped launch the careers of some of the UK’s finest performers. This year we are delighted to introduce a new Jazz Award, further extending the reach of the competition and look forward to showcasing another group of exceptional young people when BBC Young Musician reaches its broadcast stage early next year.

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms said, ‘BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four are delighted to work together again to showcase the UK’s outstanding young musical talent and to bring BBC Young Musician to its audiences in a truly immersive experience across radio and television.’

Rhodri Talfan, Director, BBC Cymru Wales said, 'BBC Cymru Wales is thrilled to produce BBC Young Musician, combining the talent and energies of the UK's best young classical musicians with those of our expert production team. We're all looking forward to the 2014 contest with real anticipation.'

Running alongside the established classical music format, the first ever BBC Young Musician Jazz Award will comprise two audition stages followed by a Final on 8 March 2014 to be held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Entry forms for the Jazz Award will be available from 1 August 2013 with a closing date of 18 October 2013.

The classical format remains unchanged with two audition stages followed by five Category Finals – Brass, Keyboard, Percussion, Strings & Woodwind. These will also be held at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, as will the Competition Semi-Final where the five Category Winners compete for three places in the Final. Applications are now open with a closing date of 26 July 2013.

Perhaps the most high profile career to emerge from BBC Young Musician in recent years is that of violinist Nicola Benedetti. 2014 is the 10th anniversary of Nicola’s win, and for the 2014 Final, BBC Young Musician will return to the scene of her triumph, Usher Hall in Edinburgh, which also celebrates its 100th anniversary that year. It is there on the 18 May 2014 that three finalists will perform with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kirill Karabits, who was last week awarded the RPS Music Award for Conductor, all hoping to follow in Nicola’s footsteps and become BBC Young Musician 2014.

Nicola Benedetti commented, ‘I’m hugely excited to be returning to the familiar environment of the BBC Young Musician, which holds such extraordinary memories for me. I will always be grateful to the BBC Young Musician for providing me with an unparalleled opportunity and platform. Most exciting for me will be to hear new young musicians perform. This competition is one of the greatest examples of the UK’s commitment to developing young musicians, and it must be supported and recognised.’

The winner of the 2012 competition, cellist Laura van der Heijden, has seen her own career go from strength to strength, travelling around the UK and beyond for lessons and concerts. “BBC Young Musician has changed my life, me as a musician and as a person. It has given me the most unbelievable start to my career! You get to meet new people, experience new situations, and focus wholly on music, which is fantastic. Immediately after the final I started to have new expectations of myself, I now am no longer content with playing that may be good for my age.”

Once again, the stories will unfold on air in the six weeks leading up to the Final on 18 May 2014. BBC Young Musician will be broadcast extensively on BBC FOUR and BBC Radio 3.

BBC Young Musician is Managed and Produced by BBC Cymru Wales.


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