Monday, May 12, 2008


On Saturday night I was watching what I thought was the European Final of 'Young Musician of the Year' from Austria, and then, thanks to Anni, I find out that the BBC YMOTY only took place last night, with a 12-year-old trombone player, Peter Moore, from a family of professional brass players, winning it. I did not think 12-year-olds had arms long enough for this! But wasn't the first-ever winner of YMOTY a 13-year-old cellist, Caroline Dale? She recorded the cello solos for the soundtrack of the Jacqeline Du Pre film, and works a lot in films, and the London Metropolitan Orchestra.

So I am confused about where those young 'uns in Austria came from.

Poking around the YMOTY site a bit, I am a little surprised at the jury composition. In 'my day', the first 15 years of the competition or so, the jury members were musical heavyweights, eg Menuhin, Lady Evelyn Barbirolli, Alun Hoddinott (ok, all these are no longer with us), John Manduell, principal of the Royal Northern College of Music. But now?

Step forward, jury of the Grand Final:

  • Nicola Benedetti, aged 20, a former winner. Yes, she's a lass fae Ayrshire (albeit the posh end) and I saw her conducting and solo-ing a little ensemble when she was 9, but even so - a jury member at 20? What does she know about teaching music and developing young people?
  • Richard Morrison, chief music critic of the Times. He at least has studied music, and must have some judgement, but does he have pedagogical knowhow?
  • Paul Daniel, mainly an opera conductor, though he also does orchestral work. Ok.
  • Cathrin Finch, former Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales. Read that again. I suppose it was wellpaid work, and prestigious and all that. 'Camilla is not in the mood tonight - could you tinkle her something romantic?' Would you want to casually admit to a job like this? Her age is difficult to tell - you know what publicity stills are like, though her biography is not exactly filled with dates, which suggests she is also pretty young. Teaching experience?
  • Ben Foster, orchestrator and conductor for 'Dr Who'; does a lot of orchestrating and arranging for pop bands, but also works with orchestras. Also does not look a minute over 30. But he has previous judging experience - he was in the judging panel for the Blue Peter Music Making project in 2006. (Wipe that grin off your face!).
Did someone say 'downmarket' or 'trivialising'? This kind of jury is an insult to those who participate in the competition - what they need, especially when they are just 12, is wisdom, not glamour.