Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra has announced the young winners of the first Barker Bursary competition.

The senior prize was won by 18-year-old Sakura Fish, from Bishop's Stortford. 

Sakura is an accomplished violinist who has played in both the National Children's Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra, and has also competed in the Rotary Young Musician Competition at local and district levels.

For her audition she performed the second movement of Bloch's 'Baal Shem', and an arrangement of Japanese folk song 'Sakura' - both of which impressed and moved the judges.

Sakura received a prize of £3,000, and is exploring a range of possibilities to use the money to expand her musical horizons.

She will also take up a professional solo performance opportunity as part of her prize.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Ariana Wilson from Saffron Walden won the junior prizeAriana Wilson from Saffron Walden won the junior prize (Image: SWSO)

Twelve-year-old Ariana Wilson from Saffron Walden won the junior prize, and auditioned by playing the first movement of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, including a cadenza she composed herself.

The judges were greatly impressed by her performance after only four years playing the instrument.

Ariana hopes to use some of her £2,000 prize to attend a course for young female brass players at the Royal College of Music.

According to the judges, this first year of the competition attracted a "large number of excellent candidates".

Shortlisted applicants were invited to audition before a panel of distinguished local musicians: Siu Chui Li, Simon Cartledge and Richard Hull.


The bursary scheme is implemented by the orchestra's president Jumbo Barker, who is continuing the work of his late father, George.

George founded the Uttlesford Orchestra - later Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra (SWSO) - in the 1980s, and established a corresponding bursary scheme to provide opportunities for young people, which ran successfully for several years.

The new Barker Bursary award has been designed to offer the same opportunities as the original scheme.

The Barker Bursary will run again in 2024, and young local musicians of at least Grade 5 standard can apply via the orchestra's website at from January 1, 2024 onwards.

SWSO is formed of both professional and amateur players based in and around Saffron Walden.