The Woking Music Festival hosted the Annual Young Musician competition of the year 2024 on the evening of February 3. 

The evening included performance from seven outstanding musicians who played in concert conditions to win the coveted trophy. 

The trophy was awarded to 14-year-old flautist Hanhan Qu. The adjudicator Paul Baritt said she produced ‘‘a convincing performance of musical means superbly played’’. 

Hanhan said she was absolutely elated to have won with works played from Bozza and Taffanel. 

Paul, a renowned violinist, said the Bozza piece was technically difficult but Hanhan mastered it so well with her musicality.  

Second place was awarded to 20-year-old pianist Maria Soloveva – and 17-year-old George Christiansen, another pianist, came third.

All other competitors, Rohan McCauley, Anzo Garcia Missan, Alyshea Lee and Artas Stankevicius, received a cash prize of £100.

Hanan said: “I am absolutely elated to have won, and have absolutely loved sharing my passion for performing with the audience and hope to continue to inspire this and next generation of young musicians. 

‘‘Thank you for the Woking Young Musicians committee for being so supportive.’

Mayor of Woking Cllr M Ilyas Raja and MP Jonathan Lord were in attendance and were treated to a truly magical musical performance that exceeded all expectations and performances to date. 

Cllr Raja said: “The Young Musician competition is a wonderful event and I am amazed by all the talent in the room. 

‘‘This has been an impressive evening, enjoyed by everyone and the musicians should receive as much encouragement as possible.’’

In a packed St John’s Church in St John’s  village, the audience was captivated with solo performances from the Young Musician competitors as well as the other outstanding award winners including: Junior Musicians of the Year (Winifred Allam and Yash Saran); Most Promising Young Singer of the Year (Emily Hallett); Most Promising Young Actor Award (Hannah Wood); Chamber Music Award (Hanhan and Alex Qu); Most Memorable Performance of the Year (Jack and Darcey Dwyer); and Best Choral Performance of the Festival (The Semper Fidelis Singers).

Emily said: ‘‘Being awarded most promising singer of the year last year opened several doors for me as organisers of events saw me perform at the Woking Music Festival and wanted me to sing for them. 

‘‘I sang at the Lightbox, Coronation festival and several gigs. This year I have been invited to sing at a set of Shynefest in Guildford.’’

The evening concluded with the following prizes awarded: First prize of £300 and Gordon Brown Trophy: Hanhan Qu. Second prize of £250 and Yorkshire Building Society Trophy: Maria Soloveva. Third prize of £200 and the HR Taylor Charitable Trust Trophy: George Christiansen.

Artan Stankevicius was further awarded a bursary to participate in a Music Summer School.

Mr Lord said: “It was an amazing evening of music and drama and the performances were absolutely out of this world. I wish all the talented young performers every success for the future. A huge thank you to the organisers for their hard work.’’

Chairman of Woking Young Musician Trust Mel Benyon said: “What a triumph the  evening was for the committee.

‘‘It was both inspirational and humbling. The players demonstrated such bravura is some performances and delicacy in others that it was difficult sometimes to remember that these were very young people at the very beginning of their performing lives.

‘‘They all demonstrated jaw-dropping maturity in performance.’’ John Stocker, chairman of the Woking Seniors Club, said: “Many thanks to Christine Loosemore and the committee for arranging the spectacle.

‘‘It was an enjoyable evening with some truly memorable performances by the young musicians and performers. All in all it was a lovely occasion.”

The organising committee thanked Cllr Raja for presenting the awards as well as the sponsors and friends of the festival for all their ongoing support to enable the evening to be such a tremendous success.