pianist Martin James Bartlett

Pianist Martin James Bartlett Wins BBC Young Musician

Monday, May 19th, 2014

A 17-year-old pianist from Essex has won the BBC Young Musician 2014 competition in what he described as the highlight of his life.

Martin James Bartlett performed Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in the final at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh.

Martin won at the second attempt after entering two years ago.

The other finalists were percussionist Elliott Gaston-Ross, 15, and recorder-player Sophie Westbrooke, 15.

Martin, from Hornchurch, said he could not believe he had won.

“It was a real shock as I’ve watched the competition for so many years and I was in it two years ago. It feels amazing,” he said.

“My mum always had it on the TV when I was growing up so it’s something I’ve thought about for quite some time. I did it two years ago and learnt so much from the experience so I thought I’d come back and try again.”

Martin began learning the piano at the age of six and has studied at the Royal College of Music junior department with Emily Jeffrey since the age of eight.

He has been learning at the Purcell School in Hertfordshire after becoming a student there in 2010.

He also studies the bassoon and the recorder and by the age of 12 had achieved Grade 8 Distinction on all three instruments.

Martin, who is currently studying for A-levels in music and physics, said he would “love to be a concert pianist and play to people all around the world”.

The finalists performed with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kirill Karabits in front of a live audience, and it was broadcast on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3.

They were judged by a panel of world-renowned musicians; composer James MacMillan, conductor Alice Farnham, pianist Alice Sara Ott, percussionist Colin Currie and recorder-player Michala Petri.

For the first time, an ambassadorial role was awarded to violinist Nicola Benedetti on the 10th anniversary of her win.

Benedetti said: “Martin lives and breathes music. He is a powerful and natural musician and his love for music is serious enough to carry him through the challenges ahead.”


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