Maidstone Young Musician 2024

Maidstone Young Musician 2024 Competition Winner: Ameli Sakai-Ivanova

Ameli Sakai-Ivanova

Ameli is 15 years old and is passionate about studying the piano.

She is learning with Nancy Litten and recently passed her LTCL with Distinction. She has achieved many first prizes, both solo and ensemble, at festivals in Maidstone, Beckhenham, Bromley and Blackheath; also Pro Corda, KIPC, Steinway, and EPTA. She has been awarded three recitals at the Steinway Hall in London.  

She is especially interested in Chopin and her achievements at international competitions include Gold Prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition in Asia, and Distinction Prize at the International Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youth in Szafarnia, Poland. Ameli is due to perform Chopin’s Concerto No.1 in Bulgaria in March. She loves travelling, skiing, and learning languages.

Runner Up: Elizabeth Knowles

Elizabeth Knowles

Elizabeth took grade 1 singing when she was 6, and at 16 the dream to become an opera singer remains her focus and passion. 

She studies at King’s School Rochester on a music scholarship, taking music, drama and politics A-levels. She has sung in many choirs, including St Mary’s, West Malling, Rochester Cathedral Childrens’ Choir, Kent County Choir, and The National Children’s Choir. She performs at weddings and funerals. Her singing teachers have included Helen Bailey, Tabitha Reynolds, and Elaine Ford; she now studies with Elizabeth (Tilly) Green (soprano), James Meaders (VOX Anima director) and John Mountford (music head at King’s)

She likes going to the Royal Opera House and the ENO, travelling, and cheering on Maidstone United at matches.

Young Musician of Promise: Clara Zerpa-Falcon

Clara Zerpa-Falcon

Clara (13) is currently a year 9 student at Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School.

She began learning the flute with Lucy McIntyre at the age of six, after picking out the instrument while listening to orchestral recordings. She plays with several orchestras and enjoys performing solos in concerts. Having achieved her Grade 8 flute exam in 2023, Clara is now working towards a Diploma.

In her spare time, she loves learning languages and adores animals.

Maidstone Young Musician 2024 Other Finalists

Arissa Vaziri

Arissa Vaziri

Arissa is 14 years old and is a music scholar in year 10 at Sevenoaks School, where she enjoys performing in many concerts and playing in ensembles.

Over the summer, she achieved a high distinction in her piano ARSM, after having achieved distinctions in all of her other piano grades. She has also passed her grade 8 singing with distinction, and she is working towards her grade 6 violin exam.

She enjoys performing in festivals, and has attended courses such as the Kent International Piano Courses and Pro Corda Chamber Music Courses. She also regularly visits local care homes to play piano and entertain the residents.

(Arissa was unable to perform on the night due to illness)

Emily Lu

Emily Lu

Emily is 12 years old and is a year 8 student at Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone.

She started learning the piano at 6 and the violin at 7, gaining grade 8 on both instruments at age 11. She has recently begun learning the oboe as well. She went on her first Kent Music Summer School at 8 and loved it. Her current violin teachers, Nora and Nador Szederkeny recommended her to audition for the National Children’s Orchestra in 2022 where she was picked to perform in the under 12s ensemble. She has recently been accepted into the Kent County Youth Orchestra and played with them in their 2023 winter concert in Canterbury.

Emily loves drawing as well as music. Taekwondo is her favourite exercise.

Jessica Powell

Jessica Powell

Jessica (14) is a music scholar at Walthamstow Hall, Sevenoaks, where she takes part in a variety of ensembles.

She also attends Junior Trinity Laban Conservatoire on Saturdays. She has played the saxophone for five years and has achieved her grade 8 in classical saxophone (currently awaiting her ATCL Performance Diploma result taken in December) and grade 7 in jazz saxophone. She also plays the piano and the clarinet. Jessica enjoys arranging, composing, and performing music. She has a place in the National Youth Concert Band, plays in the Eynsford Concert Band, and also in various school orchestras and ensembles.

She hopes to be a professional musician when she is older.

(Jessica was unable to perform on the night due to illness)

Lydia Mi

Lydia Mi

Lydia is an 8-year-old currently studying at City Junior School.

She started music when she was 5 years old, and soon developed a deep love for it. She plays both cello and piano, and currently holds an ABRSM distinction in Grade 5 cello and ABRSM distinction in Grade 6 piano. Through the years, Lydia has achieved great results in various music competitions, collecting medals and trophies. She has a key role in her school’s orchestra and is also an active member of the school choir.

As well as playing music, Lydia also finds delight in the world of dance, expressing herself through the graceful movements of ballet and the spirited rhythms of Latin dances.

Yana Lisitsyna

Yana Lisitsyna

Yana is 14 years old and attends Alleyn’s School in London on a music scholarship, where she studies History, Art, French and German.

She learns the violin with Anna Salmi and the piano with Rosemary Fraser. She finds joy in participating at various music festivals on both instruments, such as the Blackheath Music Festival and the Maidstone Music Festival. As well as contributing to the musical life of the school by participating in chamber groups and orchestras, Yana enjoys being a part of the South London Youth Orchestra and Dulwich Youth Orchestra.

She was offered a place in the first violin section of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra when only 10 years old.

Maidstone Young Musician 2024 Adjudicators

  • Malcolm Riley (organist/pianist/choral conductor)
  • Nicola New (horn-player)
  • Nicci Whitaker (cellist)

Last year’s Young Musician Alma-Constance Denis-Smith, and the MYMS choir under Ciara Considine also performed.

Maidstone Music Festival

Maidstone Music Festival