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New kids on the block; music matters This weekend, TV presenter Gethin Jones will host the final of the 11th Texaco Young Musician of Wales competition, open to young Welsh instrumentalists up to 20 years old. Karen Price profiles the five finalists competing for the pounds 1,000 prize.

Byline: Karen Price

Anne Denholm

Age: 17

From: Carmarthen

Instrument: Harp

Background: Anne first took up the harp at the age of eight. She's now a student at The Purcell School for young musicians. In addition to her solo playing, for which she's won many prizes in local and national music festivals and eisteddfodau, including the Abertawe Festival for Young Musicians' trophy for "most outstanding harpist", she enjoys ensemble and orchestral playing. Anne is a former principal harpist of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

She says: "I am very pleased to have reached the final and am really looking forward to playing with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra."

Steffan Ciccotti

Age: 17

From: Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire

Instrument: Percussion

Background: Steffan's interest in music started at the age of 10. As well as playing percussion, he's also an experienced jazz and classical pianist and organist. His musical achievements include winning the Pembrokeshire Secondary Schools Instrumental Festival at the age of 12. He's also a previous holder of the Young Musician of Dyfed title and, more recently, reached the semi-finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest.

Steffan, a student at Chetham's School of Music, is eager to turn his passion for music into a full-time job. He's keen to perform on the stage at St David's Hall tomorrow.

He says: "I love performing, and can't wait to get onto the stage at St David's Hall. Being part of a competition like this has been such an amazing experience for me and will no doubt help me to develop as a performer."

Ben Creighton Griffiths

Age: 12

From: Cardiff

Instrument: Harp

Background: Ben first took up the harp at the age of just four.

His first public performance was in November 2001 when he was part of a fundraising concert hosted by the Welsh Flute Trio. Since then, he's performed in more than 175 events across the UK. In 2008, in recognition of the work he does for them, Ben was made ambassador for George Thomas Hospice Care. Last September, he won the junior section (under 16s) of the international harp competition Concours de Harpe Lily Laskine, which is held in Paris every three years. He is a student at Cathedral School in Llandaff, Cardiff and is excited about performing in this weekend's final.

He says: "I am really looking forward to the competition final and have been working really hard to make sure that my performance is as good as it can be.

" I love performing and can't wait to get onto that stage."

Steffan Morris

Age: 17

From: Neath

Instrument: Cello

Background: Steffan first took up the cello at the age of eight and three years later gained a Grade 8 distinction. He came second in the 2007 competition and is hoping that this year he will be able to go one better and take the 2009 title. The student of the Yehudi Menuhin School, in Surrey, has a wealth of musical achievements, including winning the 2008 Jellinek Award for Young Musicians and performing the Elgar cello concerto three times last year with the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra.

He is excited about performing at the competition final.

He says: "Some of my best experiences have been on stage. I love performing, especially to a large audience.

Leaving the stage at the end is definitely the worst thing about performing."

David Shaw

Age: 12

From: Conwy

Instrument: Violin

Background: David, who has just celebrated his 12th birthday, is the youngest contestant to make it through to the Texaco Young Musician of the Year final. After S4C saw him compete in the regional finals last October, he was invited to perform at a Christmas concert in Llangollen.

He first took up the violin at the age of just four and is a student at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester. Competition highlights include coming second in the Urdd Eisteddfod for both his piano and violin skills when he was just eight years old.

At the 2008 Chester Music Festival he won the recital class with honours. He's been busy rehearsing for the final.

He says: "Some of my best experiences have been on stage.

I just love performing. I hope that I can impress the judges enough at the final to walk away with the Texaco title - fingers crossed."

The Texaco Young Musician of the Year final is at St David's Hall, Cardiff, tomorrow at 7pm. For details, call 029 2087 8444
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 6, 2009
Words:752
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