Top prize at music scholarship contest shared between two students

Winners Jessica Shannon and James Borland with college vice principal Janice Hamilton.

Winners Jessica Shannon and James Borland with college vice principal Janice Hamilton.

Two talented musicians shared the top prize at a music scholarship contest in Solihull.

The Heartfield-Wharam Scholarship Concert at The Sixth Form College, Solihull, saw 13 music students go through a nerve-jangling audition in front of an audience of staff, students and parents to win a scholarship fund.

Solo performances ranging from vocal pieces to instrumental pieces on the piano, cello, flute, guitar and trumpet made up the first half of the concert, with music department staff judging the winner.

James Borland, aged 16, from Solihull, and Jessica Shannon, aged 16, from Bentley Heath, could not be separated and both were judged to be the winners.

James performed Idyll by Elgar on the trumpet, while Jessica played First Arabesque by Debussy on the piano.

Two highly commended prizes were also handed out to Niall Fennell and Abigail Davies. Niall performed Crying Machine by Steve Vai on the electric guitar, while Abigail sang Song to the Seals by Bantock.

All four students will receive a bursary to spend on music tuition from an eminent performer of their choice.

The bursary was set up in memory of two great musicians who strongly supported music in Solihull and at the college.

Roy Heartfield was the original head of music at the college, who died in post in 1992, while Margaret Wharam was the former head of music at Malvern Hall School and head organist at Solihull Methodist Church.

The first winner of the memorial prize was in 1994 and for the last 20 years the scholarship fund has continued.

Music teacher Chris Phelps said: “Well done to James, Jessica, Niall and Abigail for their brilliant performances, but I also want to praise all 13 students who auditioned.

“I felt like they were all winners and narrowing it down was incredibly difficult.

“Performing in front of an audience is daunting enough without the added pressure of competition, but they all rose to the challenge.

“What pleases me most of all is seeing the improvement our students make and concerts like this really help them to develop.”