THIS year’s winner of the Gregynog Young Musician Competition title is 16-year-old cello player Willard Carter who is currently studying at the Purcell School, the celebrated music academy near London.

“His recital opened boldly with Czardas by Vittorio Monti, a piece normally used as a show stopping finale for violin: so to hear it as an opening piece on the ‘cello let the audience know that a rather special performance was on its way.

“Willard’s performance was a masterclass of communication, musical interpretation and technical ability; the judges decision was unanimous and was warmly appreciated by the audience,” said competition committee chairman Edd Rayner.

The major annual competition for instrumentalists aged 18 and under took place at Gregynog Hall, at Tregynon, near Newtown, with Willard collecting the cash prize plus the trophy presented in memory of the late Peter Garbett-Edwards.

Willard also shared the prize money for the Young String Player of the Year title which went jointly to him and to violinist Joel Munday, 18, a pupil at Exeter College and from Tedburn St Mary in Essex, whose programme was a technical “tour-de-force” with a performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Danse Russe’ which demonstrated his amazing technical ability.

Joint winners of the Young Woodwind Player of the year award were Chloe Ellen Jones, 17, who plays flute and is from Wavertree, Liverpool; and Ewan Millar, 16, who plays oboe and comes from Reading.

The Young Harp Player titled went to Huw Boucher, 15, from Penarth; the Young Brass Player of the year, is George Strivens, 18, who plays French horn, and comes from Withington, Manchester; and the Young Accompanist of the year title went to Julian Trevelyan.

Chloe Ellen Jones’ diverse programme included Jacob Gade’s ‘Tango Fantasia’ in a stylish performance which enabled her to show the extended range of the instrument together with flutter-tongue notes and long chromatic passages; Ewan Millar treated the audience to a highly entertaining performance of ‘Blues for DD’ by Jeffrey Argrell; Huw Boucher presented a technically demanding programme with Aram Khachaturian’s ‘Oriental Dance and Toccata’ played smoothly and with deep connection; and George Striven, a pupil at the Manchester Grammar School, gave a recital with a lively and accurate performance of ‘Romance in F’ by Saint-Saens.

They all played and were judged in the evening concert final after getting through the afternoon semi-finals where 16 young musicians from all over the UK competed for a place.

“Glorious spring weather and the magnificent gardens at Gregynog Hall formed the backdrop for the 2018 Gregynog Young Musician competition. Throughout the day, rich sonorous sounds emulated from the Hall

“The competition is kindly sponsored by Lloyds Animal Feeds of Oswestry. The day displayed an amazing wealth of ability and virtuosity. The Davies Sisters (who founded the Gregynog Festival of which the competition was originally a part before becoming its own event) of Gregynog would have indeed been delighted to hear these dazzling performances, from some of the most talented and musically dedicated youth that this country has to offer,” said Mr Rayner.