Young musicians battle it out for solo Guildhall spot

Finalist Harrison Etherington
Finalist Harrison Etherington
Newbridge Junior School Picture: Maria Bujor

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Youngsters got their chance to shine as they auditioned for a solo spot at this year’s Portsmouth Schools’ Music Festival.

Students from Portsmouth and the surrounding area travelled to Portsmouth High Junior School On Saturday to take part at the festival’s annual competition Perform @ The Festival, where they could win the chance to perform solo on the Guildhall stage at the end of June.

Finalist Hope Esme Hillier

Finalist Hope Esme Hillier

The competition was attended by 35 youngsters, aged seven to 17. The judging panel agreed that this was the strongest year yet and the standard was extremely high.

Perry Ralls, director of the Cantilena Youth Choir, said: ‘It’s great to see such a high standard of performances and see the progression in the students who have competed in previous years.’

For the first time, this year’s competition included instrumentalists as well as singers.

Carolyn Stevenson, head of music at St Edmund’s Catholic School said: ‘Expanding the competition to include instrumentalists gives the festival the opportunity to showcase even more of the talent that the young people of Portsmouth have to offer. Picking winners was extremely tough.’

Finalist Tim Lehota

Finalist Tim Lehota

Tim Lehota, seven, came along to audition for the first time this year. He said: ‘I was excited to take part in the competition. I felt nervous to start with but it was fun. I liked that the judges were friendly and I was very happy to go to the finals.’

The winners in the junior category were Tim Lehota, Alice Wan, Harrison Etherington and Hope Esme Hillier.

In the secondary category the winners were Mbire Roberts, Jessie Wright, Louis Howells and Chloe Mogridge.

Preparations for the festival are already in full swing with approximately 2,000 children expected to take part this year.

The festival begins on Monday, June 27 at Portsmouth Guildhall and takes place over four nights. It will involve choirs of children from infant, junior and secondary schools, local colleges, as well as ensembles and dance groups from around the city.

Tickets are priced from £6 and are available from the Guildhall box office.