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Sarah MacDonald judges ‘musicians of the year’ at St Mary’s School, Cambridge

St Mary’s School, Cambridge was honoured to receive a visit from Sarah MacDonald, the first female to hold a Director of Music post in any Oxbridge chapel (Selwyn College, Cambridge) last week. Sarah came into school to judge the school’s two annual music competitions: Young Pianist of the Year and Young Musician of the Year.

The first competition, Young Pianist of the Year, took place on Thursday 5 November, and saw 12 students aged 11 to 17 perform to very high standards. The Intermediate Class shield was awarded for the second year running to Year 8 student Yuina I. who gave an assured performance of Allegro, ma non troppo from Sonata, Op. 49 No. 2 by Beethoven. The Agnes Heron Memorial Cup is awarded annually to the student who gives the most outstanding piano performance from the Advanced Class, and this year the cup was awarded to Lower Sixth student Cherry C., who is studying A Level Music alongside Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. Cherry’s performance of Intermezzo, Op. 118 No. 2 by Brahms was note perfect.

The Young Musician of the Year competition took place the following evening, on Friday 6 November, and 14 advanced instrumentalists (most of who have achieved Grade 7 or above) performed for the judges. Sarah awarded two commendations to girls she felt had given exceptional performances; Annabelle B., violin and Lily B., voice.

Cherry C. performed her Young Pianist of the Year winning piece again and, impressing Sarah, our adjudicator, even more than the previous evening, she was awarded the Young Musician of the Year accolade.

The school’s Director of Music, Mrs Fisher, commented: “The St Mary’s School, Cambridge Music department prides itself on the girls’ commitment to music making and high levels of musicianship. Participants in the competition were well prepared and had clearly dedicated hours of their time to practising for this prestigious showcase. It was great that Sarah was able to witness the remarkable talent displayed at our school, of which I am immensely proud.”

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress at St Mary’s School, Cambridge, added: “We were honoured to welcome such a positive female role model as Sarah MacDonald to school to adjudicate these competitions. Sarah gave valuable advice to each performer which will enable each girl to become even better musicians and performers. Our founder, Mary Ward, had a vision in the 17th century that ‘By God’s grace, women in time to come would do much’ and Sarah, as well as our musicians, are certainly living up to these ambitions.”

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