4 February 2019
Gifted mathematician and pianist Naomi Bazlov, 16, a Year 12 student at King Edward VI High School for Girls, Edgbaston, is celebrating her first international call-up as the only girl on the six-strong UK team for the Romanian Master of Mathematics contest in Bucharest. The event in late February, one of the highest-level international Maths competitions, attracts national teams from all over the world.
Naomi was selected thanks to an outstanding showing at a week-long Maths Camp in Hungary in December, designed to prepare gifted British and Hungarian students for international maths competitions. She and her fellow participants worked together on high-level problem-solving and sat two challenging exams in the style of International Mathematical Olympiads.
“Over the past year, I’ve trained really hard to be selected for an international team,” said Naomi, “and I’m very honoured to be taking part in such a prestigious international maths competition. It’ll be great to meet other people who like solving the toughest mathematical puzzles. There are hardly any girls in these high level competitions – not sure why not, maybe because some of the boys are simply focused on their maths while most girls are more rounded and take part in a range of activities. Everyone’s been very encouraging though and the boys accept me as an equal. KEHS is a very academic school with lots of good mathematicians and really supportive maths staff who’ve always willingly given up their time to discuss mathematical problems whenever I’ve needed help and advice.”
Naomi’s maths successes started early. Aged 12 she excelled in the British Mathematical Olympiad, a competition normally aimed at advanced sixth-form students, and she was picked for the Senior Mentoring Scheme run by the UK Mathematics Trust (UKMT). After graduating from this, she joined the UKMT’s most selective Advanced scheme, mentored by former International Mathematical Olympiad gold medallist Neel Nanda, of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Naomi is certainly following in the family tradition. Her Russian-born parents are both Maths lecturers, her mother Olga at Birmingham University and her father Yuri at Manchester. “Naomi’s interest in mathematics has been obvious from a very young age” explained Mr Bazlov, “ and now she’s added the focus and determination which maths competitions are helping her to develop. All the family takes pride in her success.”
Naomi is also an outstanding pianist and has won scores of music competitions including the 2018 Bromsgrove Platform, a contest for gifted young players founded by the Bromsgrove International Musicians’ Competition. At 12, she even took her Piano Licenciate diploma, which is normally only achieved by adults.
Apart from classical piano, Naomi enjoys chamber music and recently led a piano quintet in a successful Lunchtime Concert at the Barber Institute. She also plays piano in a school jazzband, and has already tried her hand at composing jazz music.
“I love my music and realise how important it is as a way to express myself,” she explained, “but I now know I’d like to concentrate on mathematics, if possible studying at Trinity College, Cambridge. I’m very much enjoying serious competitive maths and would love to perform well in Romania, which I know would also help in my future career.”
This is just the latest in a string of individual successes for KEHS pupils over the last few months. Naomi’s classmate Lauren Zhang, 17, herself a nationally-acclaimed mathematician and concert pianist was recently selected as BBC Young Musician of the Year. Meanwhile Upper Sixth-former Aishani Ghosh, 17, an award-winning performer specialising in South Asian and Contemporary Dance is through to the latter stages of the prestigious BBC Young Dancer competition.