an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Just in: Jazz to be included in BBC Young Musician of the Year

An extra category has been added to the biennial contest, which started in 1978 but has been virtually wiped off mainstream television and print media.  The idea is that jazz might give it more screen cred. The last winner was the stunning cellist,  Laura van der Heijden.

laura vander

UPDATE:  The BBC has sent the following clarification to LondonJazzNews: It is a separate award with its own heats and final on 8 March 2014 and judging panel yet to be announced. Entry forms for the Jazz Award will be available from 1 August 2013 with a closing date of 18 October 2013.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Andrew Gosden says:

    What could have been more wonderful than hearing Laura van der Heijden? I despair.

    • Andrew Gosden says:

      Much as I like Jazz… it belongs somewhere else. Why not Young Jazz Musician of the year as well, on alternate years?

  2. I have nothing against jazz, but it always seems that classical must open itself up to other genres, but never the other way around.

    I think Andrew Gosden’s suggestion is a good one.

  3. What would give it more “screen cred” would be allowing the brilliant young people to play, and for us to hear their recitals in full, and not to awkwardly tell us how they “feel” about playing.

    I don’t care what some teenager thinks about their school football classes or about their deprived upbringing in rural Liverpool or any of the other inane things they get asked in this programme, but I am very interested to hear their interpretation of Beethoven op.101 etc.

    I also agree with Andrew Gosden, “Young Jazz Musician” would be great. There are some amazing young jazz players and singers out there, on all kinds of instruments, and it deserves its own competition.

    • Rosalind says:

      Tim, if only… unfortunately this approach by the production team is the one thing that has totally put me off following the programme in recent years.

      The idea of Young Jazz Musician is indeed a fantastic one, but please – let the young people actually show their musical skills on screen! I also agree that it should be a separate entity as trying to judge and compare performances in jazz and classical is a fruitless, pointless task.

    • I agree with all this. What we want from BBC Young Musician is for the BBC to broadcast more of the performances. We used to get, I think, good coverage of the last four rounds. Now we get snippets from the last two. How can the BBC say they are promoting it any more?
      I have nothing against jazz but this, surely, is a classical music composition. Young Jazz Musician would be an excellent idea as a separate award.

    • Martin Locher says:

      I agree, that rather than showing home stories and whatever other personal stuff, the TV crews should talk to the kids about why they play which piece.

      Including Jazz though could be a good thing, if the youngsters get to talk to eachother. I saw quiet a few genre-combining works, which are interesting. From Jacques Loussier’s Bach to Daniel Schnyder’s Concertino for Horn, Percussion and Strings, which premiered in St. Gallen, Switzerland this season.

      The more important question for me though is if and how the BBC could use this contest to help to make classical music concerts more popular with a younger audience. If they think this is by talking to these talented musicians about personal things, then they are wrong.

  4. Chris Walsh says:

    Having read the story that Norman linked to, I’m still not entirely clear how this is going to work. The impression I had is that the Jazz award will be entirely separate from the classical award, with its own heats and final, rather than attempting to add a jazz performer to the existing classical categories. The latter would, I agree, be problematic. The judging criteria would be difficult (only one performer would be being evaluated on their improvisational skills, for one thing).

    More information needed, I think. But nice to see an event in which young jazz performers can shine. And it’s probably worth pointing out that nearly all young jazz players these days are coming out of jazz programmes at the established music colleges.

  5. Halldor says:

    Never understood the classical music world’s seemingly ingrained belief that jazz is hipper, edgier and wildly more popular than classical music. Erm, in 1925, maybe.

  6. Marcus Crompton says:

    If there’s to be a separate Young Jazz Musician competition, then this is good news.

    I’m not at all sure it’s a good idea to try to combine the two competitions in one TV programme though.

    I thought that the last series of Young Musician was just fine – back-story interviews and all – some people might interpret it as dumbing down but the BBC need to strike a balance between the competition itself and making a TV programme, which is a quite separate job.

  7. Sylvie Montgomery says:

    Why not? Jan Garberech (I don’t know how he spells it) has already shown us some creative improvisations.

  8. Daniel Mullin says:

    Needless sexing-up of a long-standing competiton. Incongruous and unnecessary. What next? A thrash-metal category?

  9. PK Miller says:

    I agree with those who say Jazz should be its own competition and awards. Jazz IS “America’s classical music,” as the immortal Dr. Billy Taylor always put it in the jazz program he once hosted on NPR. I don’t know if Duke Ellington ever actually said, “If it sounds good it IS good,” as the equally immortal Peter PDQ Bach Schickele (but you’re not dead yet, Peter!) always put it but he SHOULD have. A singer at St. Luke in the Fields in NYC a few years ago performed some songs that transcended every genre. But, as a general rule, one would not improvise in classical music, “scat” in the middle of Una Furtiva Lagrima, e.g. And there are so many possibilities in jazz, why not open it up, separate competition with different categories. In our area, the Northeast Blues Society sponsors Children of the Blues in which young blues/jazz musicians learn their craft along side older experienced musicians. It’s NOT Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, but a very separate–but EQUAL–genre. Certainly, there’s some blending, crossover, etc., and some young artists can compete i8n both categories. But don’t confuse the two.

  10. Chris Fidler says:

    Music is not a sport. It’s not about playing in competition!!!!! I say, although I welcome the idea of including jazz I still wonder why it has to be a competition? Therefore making it only a small step away from scuzzy programs like “Britain’s got talent” and “The Voice”. I would rather the TV companies just show more real “live” music and concerts on TV to showcase the talented instrumentalists around Britain and beyond!!! The so called music competitions we see (highly cut and edited might I add) only contribute to the ever increasing the DUMBING DOWN of society :-(

  11. DebashishSharma says:

    I agree with the commenters who welcome the introduction of a jazz musician competition. However Marcus Crompton makes a valid point in querying whether combining two competitions would be too much for a single television series.

    Forget about the trite ‘how did it feel’ questioning that is obligatory at the end of each performance. It is introduction of the semi-final stage that has really ruined BBC Young Musician. Here we witness the category winners playing the same pieces they played in the heats but to different judges. If the aim is to identify those musicians who will cope with the demands of playing with a full orchestra then it fails. A much better format would have been to get each of the category winners to play a movement from a concerto with a full orchestra.

    But it is a failure for a much bigger reason – namely, if you have five finalists rather than three, then you will get a broader repertoire performed. I always looked forward to the percussion concerto because whenever you have a percussion music you are dealing with contemporary pieces. Performances of Schwantner, MacMillan or Torke would be guaranteed. Even if the broader television audience hated the compositions, at least they would be aware that composers still exist and that classical music is a living culture. I cannot for the life of me understand why Hyun-Gi Lee or Alexander Kelly were eliminated from the 2012 competition. To my untutored ears, Hyun-Gi Lee exhibited a real sensitivity and lyricism in her performances.

    Appointing an ‘ambassador’ – even one as capable as Nicola Benedetti – suggests an underlying lack of confidence in BBC Young Musician. It sounds similar to the ‘tsars’ that have been appointed by successive governments to little effect. If BBC Young Musician is to flourish it needs to get back to basics. Broadcast full performances on TV and radio, maybe even make some of the performances podcasts or permanently archive them, and give all five category winners the chance of performing a concerto with a symphony orchestra.

an ArtsJournal blog