Student reaches BBC Young Musician of the Year final

PUBLISHED: 09:12 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 11 March 2020

Lewis Isaacs and a marimba. Photo: Pret-a-Portrait.

Lewis Isaacs and a marimba. Photo: Pret-a-Portrait.


A 16-year-old British-Japanese student at the Saffron Centre for Young Musicians (SCYM) has reached the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year.

Lewis Isaacs, who lives near Bishop's Stortford, reached the percussion category final after having competed against hundreds of young musicians from all over the United Kingdom. He could now win £1,000 if he beats the other four competitors, and go onto the semi-final against winners of four other categories. Three musicians will then be chosen to play a concerto with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

'When I found out the news about the final, I was shocked, pleased and excited that my work had paid off to get me through to the next round. I was also slightly stressed knowing how well I would have to perform this time around as the standard will be very high,' he said.

Like many people who study musical instruments, Lewis had to dedicate many years to develop and improve his skills before this achievement could be shared with others. He started studying drum kit and piano when he was seven, and marimba and orchestral percussion from the age of 11.

Lewis said: 'The work I have put in preparing for the final has been extremely tiring at times, especially at school, when having to sacrifice my social life for roughly two months, in order to prepare to perform to the best of my abilities on the day.'

Lewis is open-minded when it comes to his musical interests, which span across classical, jazz, rock and pop and played in several orchestras, bands and ensembles.

In 2017 he came second in the Universal International Youth Percussion Competition in Belgium. This achievement was a key moment in his career: 'I was really pleased to have came second in the International Competition because it was the first high scale competition that I had participated in and doing well motivated me to keep improving.'

Lewis has been a student at SCYM since 2016, a school open to young musicians from the whole of Essex.

BBC Young Musician of the Year's percussion category final will be broadcast on BBC4 on May 6, with coverage on BBC Radio 3.

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