2015 Pollard Award Finalists

2015 Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Award for Performance Excellence Finalists. Photo: WinkiPoP Media

Youth Final showcases wealth of talent


Now in its seventh year, the Sydney Eisteddfod Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Instrumental Awards for Performance Excellence Final showcases such a wealth of amazing talent, it never fails to attract a crowd, and those who have followed it since its inception are adamant the 2015 Final was the most impressive ever.

The three top place-getters all gave sensational performances. Benett Tsai who emerged as the 2015 winner scored his victory playing David Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody, Op.68, is now in his final year of primary school andclearly has music in his blood. His father is a pianist and his uncle Thomas Tsai, who began teaching him the cello when he was five, is artistic director and conductor of the North Sydney Youth Orchestra. At the 2015 McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod Benett won the Viola, Cello or Double Bass event (12/u) with a score of 95/100, and within two hours scored an identical mark in the event for players aged 25 years and under.

In another magnificent performance, pianist Joshua Han, who over the past few years has triumphed two major junior piano competitions in Europe and collected 15 gold medals on the McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod platform, gained second place playing Chopin’s exquisite Nocturne, Op. 9, No 2 and Rachmaninoff’s lively Polka Italienne. Emily Su finished third with a ravishing performance of Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate. 

The other finalists all performed superbly. Clarinettist Olivia Hans-Rosenbaum, who was the top scoring solo instrumentalist at the 2015 McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod, gave a brilliant performance of André Messager’s Solo de Concours. Also on clarinet, Anna Chung rendered an impressive account of the Allegro moderato from Clarinet Concerto No 3 in B flat major by Carl Stamitz.

Pianist Corinna Shimeng Chen introduced a sense of drama to her performance by playing by the Harry Potter Hedwig’s Theme in a dark hood. On completion of this piece, Corinna, who won three gold medals during the recent festival, discarded her hood and launched joyously into ‘La Campanella’ from Liszt’s Grandes études de Paganini. Then, not to be outdone, Andrew Liang, added a touch of real showmanship playing the Andante from Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op.64.

In 2015, a French horn and a double bass featured in this event for the first time. The French horn is a difficult instrument to play, and according to professional musicians in the audience, Madeleine Aarons showed amazing skill playing Robert Planel’s Caprice.  Another much admired finalist, Jason Henery fascinated all with the wonderful sounds he produced playing the Andante and Allegro from the Double Bass Concerto Op.3 by Serge Koussevitzky. 

As organisers tallied the audience votes, guest artist Katherine Allen entertained the audience with singing three beautiful arias. A champion of the McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod classical singing program, Katherine, who will soon sit for her HSC, is now preparing to feature as a soloist in the forthcoming School’s Spectacular for the third time in as many years.  Blessed with a beautiful voice, she has her heart set on an operatic career and hopes to begin studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2016.

The Alf & Pearl Pollard Memorial Awards for Performance Excellence brought the 2015 McDonald’s Sydney Eisteddfod to an end.  Hosted by Lane Cove Music at the Lane Cove-Mowbray Anglican Church, this special event is sponsored by members of the Pollard Family in memory of former Sydney Eisteddfod Chairman, Professor Alfred Pollard and his wife Pearl, who lived in the Lane Cove area and strongly supported the value of music in education. 

From start to finish, the evening was a huge success and Sydney Eisteddfod takes this opportunity to wholeheartedly thank the Pollard Family and Lane Cove Music for supporting this wonderful event.