Royal Marines percussionist wins top soloist competition

SHARP NOTE Richard Sharp said he could not wipe the smile off his face after his unexpected win
SHARP NOTE Richard Sharp said he could not wipe the smile off his face after his unexpected win
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A Portsmouth-based Royal Marines musician has won the top prize in a prestigious solo competition.

Percussionist Richard Sharp, 21, scooped the 2016 Cassel Prize – an annual contest open to all trainees at the city’s Royal Marines School of Music.

Richard performed three pieces on three different instruments – Greensleeves on the vibraphone, Yellow After The Rain on marimba and Rebonds B on multi-percussion.

Thirty musicians entered the competition and six went through to the final held at a packed Royal Marines Museum, Southsea.

Richard, who started playing the drum kit aged nine, said: ‘I was absolutely overwhelmed at winning the competition.

‘I did not expect to win – I was quite touched and could not wipe the smile off my face for about four hours. I was buzzing.

‘The standard was extremely high so it really means a lot to have won the trophy.

‘Hopefully this will help my long-term career as a musician in the Royal Marines Band Service and I am looking forward to performing at some prestigious venues in this country and overseas.’

Judging the performances were Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grace, Principal Director of Music of the RM Band Service, Dr Liz Le Grove, Director of Academic Studies at the school, and Mark Heron of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Richard joined the RM School of Music in 2013 and spent a couple of years touring with the UK’s leading Pink tribute band – I’m Not Pink. He will continue his training until July before joining one of five RM bands which perform throughout the UK and abroad.

Major Pete Curtis, Director of Music (Training) at the school, said: ‘I was very proud to see such talented musicians performing to the public, their peers and family members, with such confidence and professionalism. Such successful performances are testimony to their hard work and dedication, and to the commitment and experience of all the professors of music and uniformed instructors who teach at the Royal Marines School of Music.’