The Advanced Junior Piano competition is always very popular event and this year, it was no different. Some of the best pianists in Year 9, 10 and 11 have the chance to win the Rowe Cup, an impressive and very competitive musical feat. What started as a rather dull and rainy Sunday was transformed by the vibrant array of talented pianists playing with commendable amounts of enthusiasm. However, with every musical competition there will always be those who perform with astounding maturity and freedom – qualities which set them apart from their competitors. A total of 10 of the 31 pianists who performed received awards in the Junior Competition.

Commended: Alexander F, Guy W, Simba S, Brandon K and Joshua C.

Highly Commended: Warren W, who played Rhapsody no.3 in C major by con Dohnányi, beginning the competition with a bang. Jaidon E, performed The Lark, Matthew L played The Cat and the Mouse with razor-sharp articulation, and Pascal B’s performance of Berg’s Sonata had a delicately warm tone. 

The winner was Ryan W, a result of his magnificent performance of La valse by Ravel, which was played with pure precision and accuracy, ending the competition with a huge flourish. Congratulations must go to all the talented pianists who participated. It goes without saying that there was huge effort and determination put into every performance.

After a much-needed break of tea and refreshments, the Advanced Senior Piano Competition began. Although there were fewer participants, the length and professionalism of each performance certainly made up for it. The quality was impeccable throughout and therefore the competition was tough. One competitor described it as being a ‘tense’ and ‘bustling’ atmosphere, filled with ‘spirited’ playing. The senior pianists played with vivacious energy and delight, obviously engrossed by their music and in some cases even bringing the audience into a trance-like state. The music produced that night was magical, and as Mr McLachlan, the adjudicator, stated, “musicians are like wizards; if executed well, the pieces conjure up spells for the listeners, and they essentially have the power to make us feel all kinds of emotions.”

Commended: Joe RB, Jaylen C, Lyndon C, Rudyard C, George B and Jack VH.

Highly Commended: Bolun T, Lucas Z, and Tingshuo Y.

The winner of the Edward Littleton Vaughan Cup and Drummond Cory Prize was Guang X who played the Toccata by Prokofiev, a technically difficult piece. Guang X was able to capture its very essence very effectively and performed it in a lively and articulate manner.

Praise must go to Mr McLachlan, who judged all the way from lunch until night. He managed to maintain diligent concentration throughout and provided the musicians with valuable insight and guidance. Mr McLachlan is the Head of Keyboard at Chetham’s School of Music and is both an esteemed educator and an internationally renowned pianist with 40 concertos in his repertoire. Thus, he was able to make fair judgements and gave erudite remarks which were thoroughly appreciated by everyone who took part.

Eton College’s competitions are amazing opportunities for pianists of all abilities to perform and showcase all the work they have put into their music careers. However, all this would not be possible if it were not for Mr Owen, Head of Keyboards, who organises these incredible events for all boys to improve and mature significantly as performers. Many thanks must go to him, and to all the boys involved!