An eighteen-year-old student violinist has won Scotland’s national music school’s highly prestigious Directors’ Recital Prize 2019.
Marie-Sophie Baumgartner, who is Swiss-Ukranian, was declared the winner of the 19th annual competition following a closely contested final with three other senior soloists from St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh.
The other finalists were Finn Mannion, cellist, age 17 from Crieff in Perthshire; Fraser Mason, pianist, age 16 from the Scottish Borders and Sofia Ros-González, accordionist, age 16 from Santander in Spain.
The four senior finalist soloists competed before a distinguished panel of judges for the award which took place at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh.
This year’s judges were Jo Buckley, chief executive of the Dunedin Consort; Sheila Colvin OBE, formerly with the Edinburgh International Festival and the Aldeburgh Foundation and on the boards of the Scottish Ensemble, ECAT and St Mary’s Music School and Maureen Morrison, managing director of Stringers London and Edinburgh, and ex Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Marie-Sophie played Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921), Havanaise in E Major and Eugène Ysaÿe (1858–1931), Sonata No. 4 in E minor, Mvt ‘Allemande’
Marie-Sophie said: ‘I am extremely happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to perform in the final of this competition. It was a privilege to perform alongside three such exceptional musicians and to connect through my music with such a wonderful and supportive audience and to enjoy my time on stage.
‘The competition marks the end of two phenomenal years at St Mary’s Music School and I’m really grateful for all the opportunities that have been given to me here, allowing me to develop and flourish as a musician and as an individual.’
Dr Kenneth Taylor, headteacher at St Mary’s Music School, said: ‘This year we had 25 entries for the Directors’ Recital Prize and I would like to congratulate all pupils on their performances. The very high standard we witnessed is a tribute to the hard work, enthusiasm and musicianship of our pupils, their teachers and accompanists.
‘I congratulate Marie-Sophie on her well-deserved win which is a reflection of her talent and dedication to music.
‘The prize is donated annually by the school’s board of directors and provides pupils with experience of public solo performance in a competition situation. For aspiring professional musicians, audiences are vital and I thank everyone who attended to listen and support the four young finalists.’
Marie-Sophie is currently in her last year at St Mary’s Music School and studies violin with Professor Andrea Gajic and harpsichord with Dr John Kitchen. Previously she studied at the Zakhar Bron School of Music with Nadezhda Korshakova. She regularly plays in chamber music groups and orchestras and attends various summer music festivals such as Gstaad Yehudi Menuhin Festival, Verbier Festival and masterclasses.
Alongside her passion for music, Marie-Sophie enjoys learning new languages, cooking and travelling. As well as being offered a full international scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Musicin London, she has also been offered a place at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne in Switzerland and will continue her studies there from September 2019 studying with Svetlana Makarova.
The other finalists were:
Scottish-Irish cellist, 17 year old Finn Mannion, studies with Ruth Beauchamp at St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh, where he was awarded a government-aided place in 2012, aged 10. At the music school, Finn has won both the Junior and Intermediate Recital Prizes. He was a solo recital prizewinner in the Edinburgh Competition Festival too, winning the Gray Gold Medal in 2015, the Winifred Gavine Gold Medal in 2017 and, with the Strathearn Piano Trio, the Horace Fellowes Gold Medal for chamber music.
A regular member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Finn was principal cello of both the Junior and Senior Orchestras in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Finn has gained further musical inspiration after receiving tuition from other internationally renowned cellists including: Troels Svane, Peter Hörr, Hannah Roberts, Clive Greensmith, Peter Bruns, Jo Cole, Philip Higham, Alice Neary, Chris Hoyle, Martin Storey and Su-a Lee. This year, Finn is delighted to be one of four recipients of the prestigious Julius Isserlis Scholarship from the Royal Philharmonic Society. Finn plays an old English cello made by Locket Hill in c. 1790.
Sofía Ros was born in the Canary Islands (Spain) in 2002. She started playing accordion at the age of six with her teacher and composer Gorka Hermosa, at the Jesús de Monasterio Conservatoire of Santander, Spain. When she was 13, she finished her accordion professional studies and was accepted for a place at St. Mary’s Music School. She is currently an accordion student of Djordje Gajic and studies violin with Ruth Crouch.
Sofia has won a number of national solo competitions in Spain and Scotland such as the Arrasate Accordion Competition 2012 (under 13) and 2019 (under 18) and she has received some international awards such as 3rd prize at the International Accordion Competition ‘Citta Castefidardo 2011’, Italy (under 12) and Klingenthal, Germany 2014 (under 12). Sofia has also won the Intermediate Recital Price (IRP) 2017 at St Marys Music School and she has performed with the orchestra at the Edinburgh Competition Festival Concerto final 2019. She has also received masterclasses from accordion professors such as Mika Väyrynen, Frédéric Deschamps, Zorica Karakutovska, Iñaki Alberdi, Lyudmila Vasilievna and Mie Miki.
Fraser Mason is 16 years old and is from Stow in the Scottish Borders. He started to play piano at the age of seven and came to St Mary’s Music School when he was 10. He currently studies piano with Richard Beauchamp. He has participated in a number of masterclasses and was lucky enough to get a lesson with Yuja Wang after a concert and lessons with Steven Osborne (alumnus of St Mary’s Music School) on a piano course. As well as his passion for music, he also enjoys maths, sciences, and playing tennis and table tennis. In the future he hopes to study either maths at Cambridge or continue to study piano abroad. He is passionate about his maths and is studying for the British Maths Olympiads.