28 Mar 2023

The Return of the Young Musicians Festival

With the changes in government regulations, live performances for the annual Young Musicians Festival (YMF) made their triumphant return this year. Over one hundred and twenty students applied, marking this year as the largest Young Musicians Festival to date; a record number in the history of this event. For the past four years, YMF has been held in online video format, as a result of the Covid pandemic. However, we were very fortunate to be able to reintroduce much-anticipated live performances for the Young Musicians Festival!

The Young Musicians Festival provides students with the wonderful opportunity to showcase their multitudinous musical talents. The purpose of YMF is “to show the breadth and range of our school of the skills and talent at our school. It’s also important that everyone gets a chance to hear live music, it’s a form of communication that needs no words,” shares Mr. Nicholson (Music Department) who organized the entire event. With more than two hundred performers, heats were held during school hours. A few lucky music classes were allowed to watch each session, and votes were held at the end of each via Menti.

Regrettably, there were only twenty-three slots available this year, and after a gruelling process of thinning down the herd, a group of finalists was chosen. They consisted of various different musicians from every year group, and a wide range of different musical genres including Western classical, Western pop, Asian pop, Chinese, and African folk music. While not everyone may have made it to the finals, Mr. Nicholson would like to share some words of encouragement: “the competition is about having the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. We might not get this chance so take it when the chance flies past. Music is to be played, but it’s to be heard as well.” So for any aspiring performers, don’t let this get you down!

YMF started off with a series of auditions held from the 6th to the 10th of March. With a record-breaking number of applicants, compromises had been made and participants were requested to leave classes to attend audition slots in both the music room (355) and the hall. Performances were then judged by the two adjudicators this year: Mr. Nicholson, and Ms. Swain, with only select performances passing through to the finals.

Now to the most awaited part: the finals! Across the week of the 13th of March, 9 concerts were held, and finalists exhibited their passion for music during snack, lunch, and even tutor time. With such an extensive range of musical genres, the school had opted to host these concerts all around the school. These innovative concert locations also produced more appropriate atmospheres for each performance. From the hall to the car park, and even the reception, the power of music was heard in every corner of the school. The atmosphere of students and teachers cheering for the performances brought the crowd together, as they all sang and clapped along. On the 17th of March, YMF concluded with a performance from the School Orchestra and one of our very own music teachers, Mr. Nicholson.

However, the Young Musicians Festival is not just about showing off and performing. In addition to being a good opportunity for performance experience, the Young Musicians Festival is also meant to give students a chance to receive external feedback on any songs they may be working on. Ruby Mak from 13P2 who is currently applying for the Academy of Performing Arts said she wanted “more experience performing in front of a live audience.” Ruby, who played the Polonaise Brilliante in A Major by Wieniawski, made it swiftly to the finals, and we wish her the best of luck in her auditions at the Academy of the Performing Arts!

In an interview with Pely Yau from 12G2 who unfortunately did not make it to the finals, told us that she doesn’t “think this will bring me down in any way because I know I have lots of other similar opportunities right now and in the future to go for.” Pely, who performed the Concerto for Two Violins by Bach believes YMF is “a chance to evaluate what could have been better or can be improved on for next time to succeed.”

The Young Musicians Festival was also an opportunity for International Baccalaureate (IB) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) music students alike to record a performance for submission to exam boards. With the time crunch looming over these students, YMF provided a valuable opportunity for students to work on their music portfolios.

Overall, the 2023 Young Musicians Festival has manifested a fusion of bygone YMF traditions, along with embellishments of new features. Mr. Nicholson feels that “It’s really changed this year, I have seen a huge change with our community, and it’s really quite moving.”

Written by: Sam Cheung
Edited by: Hannah Wong and Kelly Tang