Musicians from Gad’s Hill welcomed Chief Instructor at the Royal Military School of Music, Major Craig Hallatt, to their school’s annual celebration of music, as guest of honour and official adjudicator.

Majot Hallatt, BA (Mus) LRSM ALCM, had the unenviable task of judging the 20 performers, already ranked the school’s most promising, after an open concert held for all artists who wanted to perform a solo piece, at the Gad’s Hill Spring Music Festival.

Juniors and Seniors from the school sang and played a variety of instruments, including drums, saxophone, marimba and piano for Major Hallatt and a packed auditorium, before hearing the esteemed judge’s critique and final decision on who would take the coveted winning titles.

In his address to the crowd, Major Hallatt praised the talent and commitment of all the musicians and spoke of how music is a universal language that develops young people’s confidence and life skills.

A keen composer, Major Hallatt, whose career highlights include having his music performed at the 2018 Classic FM Live Concert, went on to say: “We have been treated to some truly exquisite recitals tonight.

“Both vocalists and instrumentalists have shown such maturity and their personal interpretations of modern and classical pieces were mesmerising.

“It is always so, so difficult to call a winner, as they all score top marks for ability but I must commend those who have expressed spine-tingling musicianship.”

Before presenting nine-year-old Bethany Coffey with the Junior trophy, Major Hallatt praised runner-up Isabelle Troy, nine, for her impressive vocal rendition of ‘Holding back the years’, while playing piano.  Third place went to Amelia Harrington, also nine, for her ‘passion’ while singing ‘Go tell it on  the mountain’.

Major Hallatt likened Bethany’s performance of ‘How far I’ll go’ to ‘something straight out of a West End production’, before she received rapturous applause from the audience – and a huge hug from her very proud mum!

Next, the coveted Senior shield was awarded to 12 year-old drummer Toby Fleet, who wowed the crowd with his drum routine – Major Hallatt was amazed by his talent and declared his set ‘spine-tingling’.

Fourteen-year-old marimba player Isabelle Benson was named runner-up for her ‘technical prowess’ on the school’s flagship instrument, while third place was awarded to Ellie Boardman, 15, who gave a ‘moving and polished’ vocal delivery of Disney’s ‘God help the outcasts’.

The annual event is a celebration of classical and contemporary arrangements showcasing the students’ musical abilities. Participants win a place after being selected by a panel of judges in the school’s Developing Musicians Concert, where all students are invited and encouraged to take part, regardless of experience or skill.

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