University student makes it to finals of prestigious BBC music competition

Nick Manz, BBC Young Musician 2022 finalist interviewing for the BBC inside BCU's Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

A music student from Birmingham City University’s (BCU) internationally renowned Royal Birmingham Conservatoire [RBC] competed in the finals of BBC’s Young Jazz Musician of the Year 2022.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham City University

Second-year BMus Jazz pianist Nick Manz was on BBC 4 on Sunday (20 November) night after battling through two rigorous auditions and beating tough competition to reach the Grand Final, which took place at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall last weekend.

BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year celebrates the best emerging jazz talent in the country, and Nick was one of two pianists to reach the finals this year. All five finalists were tasked with performing their interpretation of a well-known piece as well as their own composition, alongside one of the UK’s celebrated jazz trios, Nikki Yeoh’s Infinitum.

The Grand Final was filmed in front of a live audience and was judged by a panel of celebrated jazz performers: award-winning singer Claire Martin, composer and pianist Bill Laurance, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and producer Emma-Jean Thackray, and singer-songwriter and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

Nick, aged 21, performed Mr JC by Kenny Kirkland, a tune by Thelonious Monk, and his own original piece for the final.

Nick, from Lichfield, was influenced by classical music growing up while his parents are oboists. At the age of 16, he started learning the piano and listening to jazz.

The news comes after fellow Royal Birmingham Conservatoire student Jordan Ashman, a first-year BMus student, performed the Percussion Concerto by American composer Jennifer Higdon with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall to win the overall BBC Young Musician of the year which took place last month.

You can watch Nick's interview with the BBC here

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