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Essex Young Musician of the Year

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The John Lill Awards • 2024

Ongar Music Club is delighted to launch the 2024 Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition. This, the fortieth competition, will be held in three rounds – the first (preliminary) round on Sunday 30th June, the second (semifinal) round on Sunday 7th July at 2:00 pm and the final round on the evening of 7th July at 6:30 pm. All rounds will be held in the Budworth Hall, Ongar and open to the public.

JOHN LILL CBE, the distinguished Essex-born pianist and President of Ongar Music Club, has generously agreed to Awards in his name being presented to the finalists in this annual competition. Full details of the competition are in the new prospectus, which you can download by CLICKING HERE. The closing date for entries is Friday, 31st May 2024. All candidates will receive a written report on their performances following the competition.

The first prize will be £1,000 together with offers of paid engagements. Other generous cash prizes will be awarded.

The Essex Music Scholar of the Year Award will be given to a performer under nineteen. This is a cash prize of £200, to be used for the advancement of their musical studies, and the Essex Music Scholar of the Year trophy to hold for one year. Three further prizes will be awarded to candidates under-19, not already prize winners in the 2024 competition, who have given outstanding performances.

This year, we are able to offer two discretionary bursaries to cover the competition entry fee. If potential candidates feel that they might be eligible, they should write in confidence to the competition administrator at the following email address: administrator@ongarmusicclub.org.uk

At the foot of this page are links to files detailing the Conditions of Entry together with the Safeguarding and Data and Performance Protection policies. Proceeding to enter the competition indicates that you have read these files and that you agree to the Conditions of Entry. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that their accompanying pianist (if applicable) also accepts the conditions detailed in these files.

For more details about the photo requirements for the competition, CLICK HERE.

When candidates are ready to apply, they should CLICK HERE to proceed to the online Entry Form. You will need to enter the password EYMY84.

If you need help or any further information, please contact the administrator, Roderick Elms, who will be pleased to help: administrator@ongarmusicclub.org.uk

PICTURED TOP: Essex Young Musician of the Year 2023, finalists

THE COMPETITION was established in 1984 through the enthusiasm of key members of Ongar Music Club. It aims to support and encourage young Essex musicians of talent and potential, who will enjoy competing and performing in a welcoming, pleasant environment. Past prize winners have gone on to enjoy successful professional careers.

The Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition is open to instrumentalists and singers aged 28 or under who were born, attend school or college, or currently reside in Essex. For clarification, the London boroughs were reorganised in 1965, embracing towns and villages which were previously in the county of Essex. For the purposes of this competition, any town or village that was part of Essex prior to that date will be accepted as qualification for this competition. This also includes villages or towns which straddle the Essex border and which have an Essex-based postcode. In case of uncertainty, please contact the administrator. Proof of eligibility is required.

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Essex Young Musician of the Year 2023 • Results

We're delighted to announce that the Essex Young Musician of the Year 2023 is Alex Lockyer, a seventeen-year-old cellist currently studying at Brentwood School. He was presented with his trophy and prize of £1,000 by the High Sheriff of Essex, Charles Bishop. The other prizes were as follows:

1st Prize: £1,000 and the Essex Young Musician of the Year Trophy and Medal – Alex Lockyer (17) cello

2nd Prize: £400 and the Hall Memorial Trophy and Medal – Joanna Lam (27) piano

3rd Prize: £300 and the Ongar Music Club Prize and Medal – Adam Cubitt (19) cello
(Adam also won the Audience and Ensemble Prizes of £50 each)

4th Prize: £200 and the Ongar Round Table Prize and Medal – Florence Cope (18) viola

Under-19 Prize

Essex Music Scholar of the Year Award: £200 – Florence Cope, (18) viola

The Essex Young Musicians' Trust Prize: £100 – Nathan Quilter (18) clarinet

Geoffrey Timms Memorial Prize: £100 and a Medal – Sarah O'Connor (17) piano

Bert Webster Memorial Prize: £100 worth of Chimes Music tokens and a Medal – Rosie Buggle (12) mezzo-soprano

We had a terrific day of performances, and the prize winners were (l-r): Florence Cope, Adam Cubitt, Joanna Lam, Alex Locker, Rosie Buggle, Nathan Quiler, Sarah O'Connor,

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The John Lill Awards • 2023

Ongar Music Club is delighted to launch the 2023 Essex Young Musician of the Year competition. This will be held in three rounds – the first (preliminary) round on Sunday 25th June, the second (semifinal) round on Sunday 2nd July at 2:00 pm and the final round on the evening of 2nd July at 6:30 pm. All rounds will be held in the Budworth Hall, Ongar and open to the public.

JOHN LILL CBE, the distinguished Essex-born pianist and President of Ongar Music Club, has generously agreed to Awards in his name being presented to the finalists in this annual competition. Full details of the competition are in the new prospectus, which you can download by CLICKING HERE. The closing date for entries is Friday, 31st May 2023. All candidates will receive a written report on their performances following the competition.

The first prize will be £1,000 together with offers of paid engagements. Other generous cash prizes will be awarded.

NEW FOR 2023: the Essex Music Scholar of the Year Award for performers under nineteen – Prize: £200, to be used for the advancement of their musical studies, and the Essex Music Scholar of the Year trophy to hold for one year. Three further prizes will be awarded to the candidates under-19, not already prize winners in the 2023 competition, who have given the most outstanding performances in their age group.

This year, we are able to offer two discretionary bursaries to cover the competition entry fee. If potential candidates feel that they might be eligible, they should write in confidence to the competition administrator at the following email address: administrator@ongarmusicclub.org.uk

At the foot of this page are links to files detailing the Conditions of Entry together with the Safeguarding and Data and Performance Protection policies. Proceeding to enter the competition indicates that you have read these files and that you agree to the Conditions of Entry. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that their accompanying pianist (if applicable) also accepts the conditions detailed in these files.

When candidates are ready to apply, they should CLICK HERE to proceed to the online Entry Form. You will need to enter the password EYMY84.

If you need help or any further information, please contact the administrator, Roderick Elms, who will be pleased to help: administrator@ongarmusicclub.org.uk

PICTURED TOP: Essex Young Musician of the Year 2022, finalists

THE COMPETITION was established in 1984 through the enthusiasm of key members of Ongar Music Club. It aims to support and encourage young Essex musicians of talent and potential, who will enjoy competing and performing in a welcoming, pleasant environment. Past prize winners have gone on to enjoy successful professional careers.

The Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition is open to instrumentalists and singers aged 28 or under who were born, educated or currently reside in Essex. Here is some clarification regarding the geographical boundaries for the competition …
The London boroughs were reorganised in 1965, embracing towns and villages which were previously in the county of Essex. For the purposes of this competition, any town or village that was part of Essex prior to that date will be accepted as qualification for this competition. In case of uncertainty, please contact the administrator.

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Messages from previous finalists ...

It really meant a lot to me winning the EYMY especially considering the calibre of past winners. The Final was held on an incredibly warm day in Ongar and I was slightly nervous. The Budworth Hall in Ongar was full, which elevated the mercury levels, but I was so excited to have reached the final.
Winning certainly helped my career trajectory to join the London Philharmonic.

Gregory Walmsley – cellist, London Philharmonic Orchestra

I greatly valued the prize, and the confidence shown in giving me the recital, ‘kick-started’ me into making the effort to achieve a ‘First’ at the Guildhall [School of Music and Drama] after which I applied for, and was offered, the position of Principal Horn of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Elspeth Dutch – Principal Horn, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Entering the competition was a crucial stepping stone in my career. It offered me a platform to hone my performance skills, gaining vital experience in several languages and genres. Soon afterwards, I began the most exciting musical journey of my career thus far, joining the a cappella group, The King's Singers. I'd certainly encourage any aspiring performer to enter this fabulous competition!

Timothy Wayne-Wright – former member of The Kings Singers

The competition provided an amazing opportunity to explore repertoire, to put together interesting and challenging recital programmes and to develop the skills needed to perform in front of an audience. I was twelve when I first entered the competition but I remember how friendly and encouraging the audience was. Winning the title gave me the confidence and experience to embark on a career in music which has taken me to many countries all around the world.

Suzie Thorn – Principal Oboe, RTÉ Concert Orchestra

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The John Lill Awards • 2022

Ongar Music Club is delighted to announce the 2022 Essex Young Musician of the Year competition. This will be held in two rounds – the first round (semifinal) on Sunday 3rd July at 2:00 pm and the final round on the evening of 3rd July at 6:30 pm. Both rounds will be held in the Budworth Hall, Ongar and open to the public.

The closing date for entries is Friday, 17th June 2022. All candidates will receive a written report on their performances.

The first prize will be £1,000 together with offers of paid engagements by the Roman River Festival and the Great Dunmow Town Band as part of their Last Night of the Proms concert in October. Other generous cash prizes will be awarded. The runner-up will be offered a paid lunchtime recital by Harlow ARC.

At the foot of this page are links to files detailing the Conditions of Entry and Data and Performance Protection. Proceeding to enter the competition indicates that you have read these files and that you agree to the conditions. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that their accompanying pianist (if applicable) also accepts the conditions detailed in these files.

PICTURED TOP: Essex Young Musician of the Year 2019 • Finalists

THE COMPETITION was established in 1984 through the enthusiasm of key members of Ongar Music Club. It aims to support and encourage young Essex musicians of talent and potential, who will enjoy competing and performing in a welcoming, pleasant environment. Past prize winners have gone on to enjoy successful professional careers.

The Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition is open to instrumentalists and singers aged 28 or under who were born, educated or currently reside in Essex (this includes the old Essex towns of Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford). Additionally, for clarification regarding the criteria for entry in so far as they relate to an applicant's home address, school or place of birth – villages or towns which straddle the Essex border and which have an Essex-based postcode will be admissible for the purpose of qualification.


JOHN LILL CBE, the distinguished Essex-born pianist and President of Ongar Music Club, has generously agreed to Awards in his name being presented to the finalists in this annual competition.

The winner of the competition will receive a  prize of £1,000, the John Lill Awards Trophy (left) to hold for one year, and the offer of recital engagements.

Other generous cash prizes will be awarded. Many of these have been bequeathed or donated by longstanding supporters of this competition and Ongar Music Club.

Two further prizes will be awarded to the two candidates under 19, not already prizewinners in the current competition, who have given the most outstanding performances in their age group.

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Holly Putt at St John's ARC

Holly Putt (mezzo soprano) was runner-up in the 2021 Essex Young Musician of the Year competition. Following the competition, she gave a lunchtime recital for St John's Arts and Recreation Centre (ARC) on Friday 12th November. Holly performed with the pianist Francesca Lauri. Her programme included a wonderful selection of music ranging from Scarlatti and Mozart to Chausson and Saint–Saëns via Donizetti and Sibelius.

Holly Putt is a London based Mezzo-Soprano, known for her innovative programs of less-known works. She values the passion for drama and sensitivity and authenticity in delivering narratives. She is currently studying at Trinity Laban under the wing of singing teacher Lynton Atkinson and vocal coach Alistair Young. From an early age, Holly has developed her musical journey involving herself in many roles at Chelmer Valley, as well as participating in many choral societies around Chelmsford and Colchester. Holly has rehearsed and performed with Trinity Laban’s Chamber choir. Holly has also performed numerous concerts as a soloist with Francesca Lauri in venues around London. Holly and Francesca have also had the privilege of coming second place in Essex young musician of the year hosted by Ongar Music Club in July 2021. Holly’s current direction is working towards more operatic works and German Lieder.

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Presentation of the Essex Young Musician of the Year 2021 Trophy

Following her wonderful recital at Brentwood Cathedral with pianist Rachael Plunkett, Madeline Robinson was officially presented with the Essex Young Musician of the Year trophy by chairman of the judges, Roderick Elms. This couldn't happen at the time of the competition due to it being held online.

All images copyright © 2021 Graham Hillman

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Madeline Robinson at Brentwood Cathedral

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News of the Essex Young Musician of the Year 2021

As part of her award, Essex Young Musician of the Year Madeline Robinson performed Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin ('The Fair Maid of the Mill') on Saturday 18th September in a recital as part of the Roman River Festival, based in Colchester. The recital was offered by the festival as part of the first prize in the competition.

Madeline was also engaged by Brentwood Cathedral to give a lunchtime recital on Wednesday 22nd September. Her recital was entitled 'The Close of Summer' and contained music by Grieg, Britten and Schubert. More details can be found HERE

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Essex Young Musician of the Year 2021 • Awards

The winner of the 1st Prize of £1,000, The Essex Young Musician of the Year Cup, and recital engagements, was Madeline Robinson (24) soprano.

The 2nd prize of £400, The Hall Memorial Prize and Cup, was won by Holly Putt (23) mezzo-soprano from Chelmsford.

The other prizewinners were:

3rd Prize £300 – The Waitrose Prize and medal – Melinda Blackman (26) violin from Colchester

4th Prize £200 – The Ongar Round Table Prize and Medal – Justin Man (16) piano from Harlow

5th Prize £100 – The Arts Society West Essex Prize adn Medal – Isabella Pincombe (23) oboe from Southend

6th Prize £75 – The Ongar Music Club Prize – Amy Ward (21) flute from Colchester

Two further prizes for under 19s were also awarded.

The Geoffrey Timms Memorial Prize of £100 and Medal - Elizabeth Loboda (17) Oboe from Saffron Walden

The Bert Webster Memorial Prize of £100 Chimes Music Tokens and Medal - Nell Ramdenee (16) Piano from South Ockendon.


The Final Round of this year's competition was held Zoom on 4th July. To download the souvenir competition programme, click here: Final Round Programme.

The First Round of this year's Essex Young Musician of the Year competition was held online on 6th June.
The programme can be downloaded by clicking this link: First Round Programme

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The John Lill Awards

Ongar Music Club is delighted to announce the 2021 Essex Young Musician of the Year competition. Due to the uncertainty of the current situation, this will be held in two rounds – the first being by way of a single, unedited video recording. Successful candidates will proceed to the final round on Sunday the 4th July at 2:00pm. This will take the form of EITHER an online concert with a further video submission OR, if permitted, a live concert to be held in Ongar.

If the final round is online, the performances will be presented in a 'Zoom' meeting for candidates and adjudicators. Members of the public will be able to purchase access to the final round. All candidates will receive a written report on their performances.

In addition to the pubished details of the first prize, for 2021 this will also include the offer of engagements by the Roman River Festival and the Great Dunmow Town Band, as part of their Last Night of the Proms concert in October.

At the foot of this page are links to files detailing the Conditions of Entry, Video Guidance and Data and Performance Protection. Proceeding to enter the competition indicates that you have read these files and that you agree to the conditions. Candidates are responsible for ensuring that their accompanying pianist (if applicable) also accepts the conditions detailed in these files.

If you need any further information, please contact the administrator, Roderick Elms, who will be pleased to help: administrator@ongarmusicclub.org.uk

PICTURED TOP: Essex Young Musician of the Year 2019 • Finalists

THE COMPETITION was established in 1984 through the enthusiasm of key members of Ongar Music Club. It aims to support and encourage young Essex musicians of talent and potential, who will enjoy competing and performing in a welcoming, pleasant environment. Past prize winners have gone on to enjoy successful professional careers.

The Essex Young Musician of the Year Competition is open to instrumentalists and singers aged 26 or under (for 2021 only) who were born, educated or currently reside in Essex (this includes the old Essex towns of Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford).


JOHN LILL CBE, the distinguished Essex-born pianist and President of Ongar Music Club, has generously agreed to Awards in his name being presented to the finalists in this annual competition.

The winner of the competition will receive a  prize of £1,000, the John Lill Awards Trophy (left) to hold for one year, and the offer of a recital for Ongar Music Club.

Other generous cash prizes will be awarded. Many of these have been bequeathed or donated by longstanding supporters of this competition and Ongar Music Club.

Two further prizes of will be awarded to the two candidates under 19, not already prizewinners in the current competition, who have given the most outstanding performances in their age group.

Full details of the prizes and jury will be announced in early June.

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Essex Young Musician of the year 2021 • First Round

The First Round performances for this year's competition are to be held online. You can join this special concert on 6th June at 3:00 pm by clicking here.

You can also download the concert programme, free of charge, by clicking here.

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Past winners ...

Anthony Marwood violin, Alison Baker piano, Jane Webster soprano, Pauline Dowse cello, Helen Knief viola, Gregory Bennett Walmsley cello, Nikos Zarb viola, Zoë Mather piano, Sarah Barnes cello, Siân Philipps violin, Rachel Barnes bassoon, James Scannell saxophone, Joseph Tong piano, Anthony Woollard cello, Tammy Se violin, Clive Carroll guitar, Janey Miller oboe, Jane Stoneham marimba, Thomas Oxley bassoon, Benjamin Grosvenor piano, Victoria Goldsmith violin, Suzanne Thorn oboe, Sophie Biebuyck soprano, Timothy Wayne-Wright counter-tenor, Tamsin Thorn bassoon, Joanna Marie Skillett soprano, Sarah-Jane Lewis mezzo-soprano, Matthew Lewis trombone, Matthew Paris double-bass, Rebecca Leung piano, William Knight clarinet, Elodie Chousmer-Howelles violin, Rebecca Silverman soprano, Kayleigh McEvoy soprano, Jamie Cochrane piano, Michael Lafferty baritone

Click here to see Benjamin Grosvenor, Essex Young Musician of the Year 2003 in the BBC Young Musician Final of 2004

Click here to see Benjamin Grosvenor, Essex Young Musician of the Year 2003, discussing his work and preparation

Pictured left: Michael Lafferty baritone, Essex Young Musician of the Year 2019

Competition Support Files

Click below to download a file as a PDF

Conditions of Entry 2024 • Safeguarding Policy •  Data and Performance Protection 2024