TALENTED William Knight has been named Essex Young Musician of the Year.

William, 19, of Leigh, is a former Westcliff High School for Boys pupil and has just finished his first year of studying at London’s Royal College of Music.

William was crowned champion after playing in front of a judging panel chaired by former competition winner, soprano Jane Webster. He was awarded the John Lill trophy, as well as £650 in prize money.

William did a 25-minute programme consisting of three pieces – Sonatina by Martinu, Pastoral by Sir Arthur Bliss, and variations on Carnival of Venice by Alamiro Giampieri.

He said: “The judges said they could see how I had grown as a musician over the years. They said I’d matured as a player and had good communication with the audience.”

William, who began playing the clarinet when he was seven, was finally victorious in the competition having finished as runner-up last year.

He said: “I was over the moon when it was announced.

“I think this year was the sixth time I’ve entered, so it feels great to win.”

William was taught by highly respected clarinet teacher Gill Thorne, at West Leigh Junior School, and is now expected to practise for around two hours a day at music college.

He added: “Gill has taught lots of the great clarinettists in Southend. My parents knew her and I progressed quite quickly when I first started learning.

“It was more difficult at school because Westcliff High isn’t a music school. I had to find a balance, but sometimes it was very busy.

“Now at college I’m surrounded by music so it’s easier to practise.”

Former winners of the Essex Young Musician of the Year include concert pianist Ben Grosvenor, of Westcliff, who has gone on to find international success and tours the world.

William, who has been a member of the prestigious National Youth Orchestra, also has grand ambitions, but admits he will need a bit of luck along the way.

He said: “My course is four years and after that I want to be a professional musician, preferably in London.

“It is very competitive though. Clarinet jobs in big orchestras only come up every 15 or 20 years, but I would not be at the college if I did not have a chance.”


South Essex also celebrated a second prize winner at the competition as 16-year-old David Cox, of Rayleigh, was named most promising competitor aged under 19.

Competition debutant David received the Hugh Terry prize, and £100, after his trombone playing took him through to the final against competitors many years his senior.

David began playing the trombone aged 11, but admitted he initially wanted to try the trumpet. The Brentwood School pupil said: “There were no trumpet teachers in the area, so I tried the trombone instead and really enjoyed it.

“I was surprised to win the award as the standard of competition was very high and a lot of the competitors were a bit older than me.”

David was presented with his award by Marianne Olyver, professional violinist and specialist examiner at the Trinity Guildhall.

David attends the Junior Guildhall School of Music in London on Saturday’s and has just finished his GCSE exams.

He added: “I’m going to study music at AS level next year and hope to be a professional trombone player one day.”