02 March 2020

Schumann proves no shoo-in as Sammy takes close-fought John Lyon 2020 Musician of the Year title

The oboe music of great romantic composer Robert Schumann was deemed the finest of a great evening of music, as Year 10 pupil Sammy Smith took the John Lyon 2020 Musician of the Year crown.

In a very close competition, which could have seen any one of the eight performances take the spoils, it was Sammy’s musicianship and control of his notoriously difficult instrument that won the praise of guest judge, President of the Royal College of Organists, Mr Gerard Brooks.

The competition final, on Thursday 27th February, included the category winners from the John Lyon House Music Competition held earlier in the month. The first half of the concert was for musicians performing at a level of grades 1-4 in nine categories. Having listened to all performances and giving much praise to each musician, Mr Brooks selected Year 10 trombonist Josh Holloway as the winner, for his performance of David A Stowell’s Jam Bouree.

The grades 5-8 category saw another eight performances, all of which displayed a very high level of technique and musicianship, on instruments both traditional and less commonly heard, including the miruthangam.

After all eight pieces, including two each from Sammy Smith (oboe, piano) and Sebastian Clifford-Varley (voice, trombone), it was Sammy who was named champion for his playing of Robert Schumann’s Romance Op 28 No 2. He was awarded the de Mello Cup, named after Mr Joe de Mello, a long-standing supporter and former member of support staff in the Music Department.

On being awarded the trophy, Sammy said: “I was surprised and delighted to win this prestigious competition with so many other great musicians also playing. It has increased my confidence as a performer and now I feel encouraged to continue studying for my diplomas.”

House Music winners and John Lyon 2020 Musician of the Year performers

Marco Viscito, guitar
Classical guitar grades 1-4

Niklas Makwana, guitar (unable to perform on the evening)
Electric guitar and bass guitar grades 1-4

Patrick Colson, accordion
World music grades 1-4

Hemang Khandelwal, piano
Piano grades 1-4

Leon Vanithasan, violin
Strings grades 1-4

Josh Holloway, trombone
Brass grades 1-4

Oliver Scott, clarinet
Woodwind grades 1-4

Ethan Greaves, drums
Drum kit grades 1-4

Harsh Hingorani, voice
Voice grades 1-4

Kassem Azzawi, guitar
Classical guitar grades 5-8

Giritharan Krishan, mirithangan
World Music grades 5-8

Rahul Renganath, guitar
Electric guitar and bass guitar grades 5-8

Ethan Miller, drums
Drum kit grades 5-8

Sebastian Clifford-Varley, voice
Voice grades 5-8

Nicholas Berezovsky, violin (unable to perform on the evening)
Strings grades 5-8

Sammy Smith, oboe
Woodwind grades 5-8

Sebastian Clifford-Varley, trombone
Brass grades 5-8

Sammy Smith, piano
Piano grades 5-8