Conservatoire music competition goes full circle as former winner conducts this year’s final

Birmingham Philharmonic Concerto Prize 2016 finalists

Percussion pyrotechnics, serene clarinet melodies and dazzling piano playing are promised from three supremely talented musicians in the finals of the 2016 Birmingham Philharmonic Concerto Prize.

Finalists Yu-Cheng Chen (marimba), Yuting Guo (piano) and Michael Webb (clarinet) will join the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Michael Seal – a former winner of the Competition.

Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham City University

The concert, introduced by TV presenter Michael Collie, takes place on Sunday 24 April (3pm) in the Adrian Boult Hall, with the competition judged by Birmingham Conservatoire Principal Professor Julian Lloyd Webber.

The concert will include Liszt’s technically-demanding First Piano Concerto, Finzi’s evocative Clarinet Concerto and ‘Prism Rhapsody – A Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra’ by Keiko Abe. John Foulds’s tone poem ‘April – England’ and Berlioz’s ‘Les Francs-Juges’ complete the programme. This year, the occasion is particularly special as former Prize winner Michael Seal returns to conduct the orchestra. As a violinist, Michael Seal won the Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Prize (as it was then known) in 1991. He is now Associate Guest Conductor of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Associate Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Since 2013, the finalists have been accompanied on the platform by the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), one of the UK’s finest amateur orchestras. The BPO is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary with concerts marking the contributions of its five former music directors including David Ludlow, after whom the Prize was originally named.

This competition is a collaborative project between Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, and Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and is unique among UK conservatoires.

A competition for Birmingham Conservatoire solo performers, the Birmingham Philharmonic Concerto Prize is acknowledged as the music academy’s premier instrumental competition. The Prize was founded in memory of David Ludlow, who both led and conducted the Birmingham Philharmonic in its formative years and who was a widely respected and talented violinist.

Following a semi-final round with piano accompaniment, three finalists are chosen to perform in a concert accompanied by the BPO. The involvement of the BPO is regarded as a great step up for the standing of the Prize, the BPO and the Conservatoire itself. All involved are working together to ensure that the competition continues to go from strength to strength.

The competition is judged by a well-known figure from the world of British music. Past chairs have included Vernon Handley, Arthur Davison, Jack Brymer, Thea King, Richard Adeney, Peter Cropper and Evelyn Rothwell (Lady Barbirolli).

Meanwhile, past winners include Amy Littlewood (violin), Hetti Price (cello), Manqui Lu (piano), Ottilia Revoczy (violin), Zoltan Vincze (trumpet), David Taylor (euphonium), Anna Ovsyanikova (violin), Alison Bach (horn), Ashley Stevens (violin), Annette Korman (flute), Pei-Fen Wang (percussion), Martin Orgill (trumpet) and Michael Seal (violin).

The Birmingham Philharmonic Concerto Prize Final is at Adrian Boult Hall on Sunday 24 April at 3pm.

For further information and booking details, visit the concert and events page.

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