The Perse School

Talented pianist crowned Perse Musician of the Year

26 Apr 2018

Will Harmer (Upper Sixth) saw off stiff competition to take the Perse Musician of the Year title following a grand final full of exceptional performances from the School’s finest music-makers.

Held in the new Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, the final featured wonderful displays from Will Harmer and fellow pianist Julia De Luca (Lower Sixth), violinists Yao-Chih Kuo (Lower Sixth) and Emma Harris (Year 8), horn player Lucy Howard (Upper Sixth), trombonist Daniel Seow, saxophonist Joseph Greaney and singer Ekaterina Rahr-Bohr (all Lower Sixth).

The students put on an entertaining and varied programme with Debussy well represented in the centenary year of his death, with Julia, Will and Joseph performing L’Isle Joyeuse, Feux d’Artifice and Syrinx respectively.

Echoes of jazz were heard in Daniel’s rendition of a solo trombone study by Bernstein, Joseph’s performance of Bill Holcombe’s Blues Concerto, and Gershwin’s Someone to Watch Over Me, sung by Ekaterina.

Meanwhile, displays of great technical skill were heard in renditions of established repertoire, including Ravel’s Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte, played by Lucy, and movements from a JS Bach solo violin sonata and a de Beriot solo violin concerto, performed by Yao-Chih and Emma respectively.

Dr Roger Allen, musicologist and dean of Oxford’s St Peter’s College, adjudicated the final and had the unenviable task of choosing the best performances from a set which he said “would happily grace any professional stage”.

In making his decision, he said he looked for the renditions that best “got behind the notes” and the intentions of the composer.

As such, Will was crowned champion for his imaginative and nuanced performances of Debussy and Kreisler/Rachmaninoff.

Runners-up were Lucy, noted for her impressive control and varied tones in a demanding array of virtuosic pieces, and Ekaterina, for mastering a programme that took in Russian, French, Elizabethan English and American English song with prose and drama.

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