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Bishop's Stortford Young Musician Competitions hit the high notes in Bishop's Stortford competition

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A 12-year-old cellist who attends Hockerill Anglo-European College produced a brilliant performance to win the Rotary Club of Bishop's Stortford's Young Musician Competition.

Extraordinarily gifted Charmon Lam beat a record 133 other young instrumentalists and singers aged up to 18 in the contest.

Bishop's Stortford College hosted the day-long event – the sixth organised by Rotary and the first for three years after the Covid pandemic – which attracted entries from all the secondary schools in the town and an increased number from primary schools.

The Rotary Club of Bishop's Stortford Young Musician Competition finalists (56284926)
The Rotary Club of Bishop's Stortford Young Musician Competition finalists (56284926)

The 15 winners from five classes – piano, woodwind, strings, brass and vocal – in each of three age groups – senior (18 and under), intermediate (15 and under) and junior (12 and under) – held during the day took part in an evening winners' concert.

Adjudicators Jill Morton, Brenda Dykes and Siobhan Lihoreau – with the help of accompanists Simon Gilliver and Michael Smith – had increasingly difficult decisions to make throughout the day.

The overall winners in each age group were Charmon, 12, in the juniors, Little Hallingbury pianist Henry Y-R Li, 14 – who also won the woodwind class in his age group – in the intermediates and Justin Man, 17, in the seniors.

Henry, who attends New Hall School in Chelmsford, and Bishop's Stortford College sixth-fomer Justin were 11 and 14 respectively when they won the junior and intermediate categories the last time the competition was held in 2019. On that occasion Justin won the overall Young Musician crown.

Runners-up were Little Hallingbury C of E Primary School vocalist Freya Brown (junior), another Hockerill cellist Kohana Fish (intermediate) while Herts and Essex High School sixth-former Bethan Spragg, trumpet, and Bishop's Stortford College boy Edward Campbell, bassoon, shared second among the seniors.

The adjudicators' daunting final task was to choose an overall Young Musician of the Year and a Young Vocalist of the Year. They chose cellist Charmon and Herts & Essex High School's Valeria Sameli, who had won the senior vocal class. Runners-up were Henry Y-R Li and Freya Brown respectively.

Charmon and Valeria now go forward to the Rotary district final in Chelmsford Cathedral in spring 2023, with the chance of progressing to the regional and national finals of this prestigious competition, in which previous Stortford winners have enjoyed considerable success.

Organiser Margaret Webb said: "It was a memorable and exhilarating day – a proud recognition of the musical talent thriving among the young people of our town."

Entry is open to anyone aged 18 or under on the date of competition (April 23) and living in, or in full-time education in, postcode areas CM21 to CM24 inclusive.

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