Maidstone Young Musician 2022 Competition Winner: Oliver Moh
Oliver is 10 years old and plays the cello. He is currently in year 6 at Junior Kings School Canterbury. At 7 years old he auditioned and was accepted into the Junior Royal Academy of Music, London where he continues to have cello lessons with Bozidar Vukotic. Shortly afterwards he achieved a high distinction in his ABRSM grade 8 cello exam.
He has won several local and international competitions, most recently he was awarded the ‘most promising young musician’ at the Maidstone Young Musician Competition 2021 and a ‘1st place’ in the 2021 Gustav Mahler international cello competition.
Oliver loves performing on his cello and his favourite composer is JS Bach, he loves the Bach cello suites and he is looking forward to learning them all. He currently plays a 3/4 size cello.
In his free time Oliver enjoys watching animal documentaries, Star Wars, maths, playing football, chess and speed-cubing (solving different types of Rubik’s cubes in competitive settings). He hopes to become a professional cellist when he’s older.
Runner Up: Niamh Kelly
“I am Niamh Kelly, I am 18 and currently taking Music A Level at Simon Langton Girls’ School, along with English, Spanish, and Maths. I have been studying recorder since I was 7 years old with Debbie Porro. I recently passed my grade 8, after the exam was delayed for a year because of the pandemic.
I love playing the different-sized instruments within the recorder family and have enjoyed doing so as a member of the Whitstable Recorder Ensemble. I also learn the piano, where I enjoy the very different challenge to playing recorder. I plan to go to university next year to study English and Spanish, and I am excited to learn more about the music and culture of Spanish-speaking countries”
Young Musician of Promise Lucas Yin
“My name is Lucas Yin, and I am 12 years old. I have been playing piano since I was four and a half years old. I love music and it is one of my pleasures in life. When I was 10 years old, I started at Whitgift School in Croydon where I am really enjoying my time.
I am also taking violin lessons at school and play in its orchestra. I attended the Blackheath Music Festival in 2018 and won the first place in my grade group. At the beginning of this year, I came second in a piano competition at Whitgift.
This November, I gained a Distinction for my ABRSM piano exam. I also played for the Maidstone Music Festival and was placed first in the Higher Recital Class. I have composed a couple of short pieces myself.
I feel that being a talented musician might be one of my future career choices. For my extra curriculum activities, I love playing hockey and badminton in school teams. Skiing is another hobby of mine along with the love of cooking, playing chess and bird watching. Travelling abroad with my parents, it is fascinating to explore different parts of the world and to experience different cultures. I have a cat called Joseph, and he is one of my best friends. I think he likes my piano playing too!”
Alma-Constance Denis-Smith: Piano, aged 10
Alma-Constance is an award-winning 10-year-old schoolgirl who loves playing the piano. In 2021 she was awarded “The Cheung Cup” at the Woking Music Festival, the “Betty Walker Cup” at the Sutton Music Festival and the “Simpson Aggregate Shield” at the Kingston Upon Thames Music Festival.
Her favourite composer is Chopin and her interpretation of his work led to her being awarded the special Chopin jury prize at the International Piano Competition “Music Phenomena” 2020. She is also a host of Kids Law, a podcast about how laws affect children as they grow up. The podcasts feature guests including leading figures such as Baroness Hale, Max Hill QC and Adam Wagner.
Alma-Constance has been a champion of First 100 Years centenary campaigns celebrating the journey of women in law since 1919. She led the 2018 charity appeal for the charity at the British Legal Awards in support of First 100 Years, raising £12,000, with the funds being used for the publication of the book “First: 100 Years of Women in Law”. She is fluent in 3 languages.
Cora Hewitt: Recorder, aged 14
Cora began playing the recorder at the age of 7 whilst a pupil at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Whitstable. Now a Year 10 student at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Faversham, she continues to study both recorder and oboe with Debbie Porro.
Cora enjoys solo and ensemble playing and, as well as performing duets and trios with other recorder players from school, she is also a member of the Whitstable Recorder Ensemble, which successfully auditioned for the finals of the 2020 National Festival of Music for Youth. In June 2021 she entered the Hastings Musical Virtual Festival, winning the recorder class for her age group and the Bronze medal in recorder for players under 16 years of age.
Having achieved Grade 7 with distinction, Cora is currently preparing for her Grade 8 recorder exam and is excited to be part of the Maidstone Young Musician competition this year.
Gaia Lim-Tyler: Violin, aged 14
Gaia Lim-Tyler had an interrupted journey in violin. Born in South Korea, she started violin at the age of 8 and originally studied the Suzuki Method. In 2018 she arrived in the UK and was fortunate to find an excellent teacher in Jennifer Walland who also plays for Maidstone Symphony Orchestra.
Now 14, Gaia has just passed her Grade 6 in violin with a high distinction. She has been a member of the Maidstone Youth Music Society for 3 years where she experienced her first taste of playing with an orchestra. In the spring of 2020, she successfully auditioned for the Kent County Youth Orchestra and has seen significant progress in her ability and confidence as a result.
She is learning piano as her second instrument. Gaia is bilingual and speaks fluent Korean and English and aside from studying GCSE music which she enjoys immensely, she has taken to French too. She plans to study music at A Level with a view to studying it at university. Her goal is to have a career in music and play professionally within an orchestra with the additional prospect of becoming a teacher a real possibility. Playing violin is a great joy in her life.
Isabelle Harwood-Lucas: Singing, aged 13
“I am 13 years old and attend Valley Park Secondary School. I go to as many musical events and clubs as I can alongside my secondary study. I love music; it’s been my passion for many years. Starting with singing it has developed to include a love for instruments too.
During the first lockdown I taught myself piano and have since taken up zoom lessons. Most recently I have started learning the guitar as well. Music has helped me through a lot in my life.
Last year I had surgery, and music picked me up when I really needed it; it gave me something positive to focus on and loose myself in. Music allows you to feel and express yourself; there is a song and melody that relates to you and supports you. It is due to this that my taste in music is very far reaching; my play lists are all encompassing, from jazz to pop, musical theatre, and rock. There isn’t a genre I do not like.”
Marli Gordon-Thomas: Singing, age 12
“I first begun singing at 2 year’s old when it was noticed that I would sing what I wanted rather than say it! I have been singing ever since, having some lessons and performing with different singing tutors and gaining some musical theatre experience with a performing arts school.
I really enjoy performing and am very lucky to have been asked to perform at a couple of events in the past with Big Jam Studios in Sittingbourne. I hope to one day have a job in the arts, but my other hobbies include drawing, art, and my cat Kitty Perry!
My other achievements include taking part in various charity events over the years in aid of Cardiomyopathy UK which is a cause with special connection to my family. I think being kind and helping people is very important.”