Canterbury Festival’s annual Young Musicians’ Bursary Award has launched some of Kent’s finest young musicians, supporting them in their music development. Our 2019 prize was awarded to Siena Barr, an incredibly talented clarinetist who performed pieces by Mozart and Bernstein in front of a Festival audience. Since then Siena has been extremely busy and we are delighted to share this update:
Over the last three months, since winning the Canterbury Bursary Prize, I have been very busy musically! Two days after the competition in Canterbury, I was fortunate enough to go on my first course with the English Schools Orchestra; a great chance to play advanced orchestral repertoire, such as Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto with guest soloist Isata Kanneh-Mason, at Cadogan Hall in London.
Following this, every spare moment was spent revising and practising for the King’s Canterbury Sixth Form entrance exams and music scholarship audition – practice which paid off! I am really looking forward to doing my A-levels there from September.
December brought opportunities for playing bass clarinet (a rare occasion for a clarinettist!) in both Kent County Youth Orchestra’s winter course and my school’s carol service. I also had lots of piano and flute practice to fit in for my Grade 7 and Grade 5 exams; exams which both required lots of slow scale practice to secure those fingerings! I am currently working towards my Grade 8 Saxophone exam, which will take place in March, and my prize money allowed me to visit sax.co.uk in London and purchase a new mouthpiece which will make a real difference to my sound.
Playing in orchestras is my passion, and the prize money from the bursary opened up the possibility of applying for new orchestral residentials. The start of the 2020 was a busy time preparing pieces for the National Youth Musical Theatre and the National Schools Symphony Orchestra auditions.
Other orchestras I had applied for in the Autumn were NYO Inspire and the National Youth Concert Band. I was accepted into both of these and I am very much looking forward to the courses which will take place in February, April and July of this year. I find that ensembles are great to get involved in, because they not only provide a deeper understanding of how to play with and truly listen to others, but also to network with other musicians and possible future colleagues!
In the last couple of weeks I have been involved in the brand new Wood Street Chamber Orchestra – an opportunity that has arisen thanks to connections I have at the Junior Department of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (which I attend on Saturdays). Someone in my conducting class has assembled a group of musicians and is conducting Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, which will give me an amazing opportunity to play with a new ensemble and to learn from one of my peers by watching her conduct!
Taking part in the Canterbury Festival has been an incredible experience for me because it has opened up so many doors. I am now fortunate enough to be able to consider new instrument set-ups with the specialist mouthpieces/ligatures available to me, as well as being able to attend more music courses! All of this will assist my journey in becoming a more connected and well-rounded musician and I am so grateful for these opportunities.