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Top trio hit the high notes
THREE talented Leigh youngsters have been chosen to represent their county in an annual competition to find the best musician in Essex.
Christopher Burt, 18, and 17- year-olds Helen McKeown and William Knight are all finalists in this year’s Ongar Music Club Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition.
The contest is open to singers and instrumentalists aged 25 and under, who live, study or were born in Essex.
The winner of the Essex Young Musician Cup will also bag a top prize of £650 and represent the Ongar Music Club at a host of events.
Running every year since 1884, the competition will see the 14 finalists perform in front of a panel of respected, professional, classical musicians, including world-renowned pianist John Lill.
Christopher, of Thames Drive, Leigh, began playing the recorder at primary school before moving on to the oboe ten years ago.
He said: “I don’t know what my chances are, but it is more for the experience of performing in front of the judges who are all acclaimed musicians.
“I am used to performing at music festivals and concerts, but obviously it can still be a bit daunting.
“The thing about being in an orchestra, though, is you are in a big group, so that really helps.”
Christopher is just finishing his A-levels at Southend High School for Boys, and will begin studying dentistry at Bristol University in September.
Helen McKeown, of Medway Crescent, Leigh, has just finished Year 12 at Westcliff High School for Girls and is planning to study music when she finishes.
Despite getting through to the second round of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, she has never claimed a top place for her clarinet-playing skills.
She said: “I am doing the Ongar Music Club competition to get more experience.
“ I am not expecting to win. I am used to performing in front of people, but it is still very nerve-wracking.”
Westcliff High School for Boys pupil William Knight, of Weston Road, Leigh, won the Ongar Music Club Hugh Terry under-18 prize in 2009 and has entered the competition every year since.
When he finishes school next year, he hopes to study music at university, and wants to turn his hobby into a career.
William said: “I’m not sure what my chances are this year, it just depends how my performance goes on the day and what the competition is like.”
For more information on the Ongar Music Club visit www.ongarmusicclub.org.uk The final takes place on July 1.