Five musicians from the RCM reach 2020 BBC Young Musician Competition category finals

RCM musicians reach category finals in BBC Young Musician 2020

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Four outstanding students from the Royal College of Music Junior Department (RCMJD) and one senior College undergraduate have reached their category finals in this year’s prestigious BBC Young Musician competition. 

The musicians – pianist Jacky Zhang, percussionists Toril Azzalini-Machecler and Isaac Harari, bassoonist Alice Gore and violinist Ilai Avni - will be featured on BBC Four as highlights from each of the category finals are broadcast throughout May.  

Pianist Jacky Zhang has attended the RCM Junior Department since the age of seven, where he studies piano with Jianing Kong and Dmitri Alexeev and composition with Kenneth Hesketh. In 2019, he won the first prize at the Ill Vladimir Krainev Moscow International Piano Competition and the Junior Prize at the Eppan Piano Academy.

Toril Azzalini-Machecler studies percussion and composition at the RCM Junior Department and is part of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Junior Artist scheme. He also plays in the pit at Glyndebourne and competes nationally with his duo. Toril will be joining the RCM as an undergraduate in September, alongside fellow percussionist Isaac Harari. Isaac began playing drums aged seven and has studied with Cameron Sinclair at the RCMJD for the past three years. 

Bassoonist Alice Gore is an alumna of the RCMJD, where she studied for six years. A highlight of Alice’s time at the RCMJD was performing at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Music for Youth with a wind octet in 2018.

Miranda Francis, Head of Junior Programmes at the Royal College of Music, comments: ‘I am so proud of these exceptional young musicians and all they have achieved here at the RCM Junior Department. They have been a pleasure to work with throughout their time with us, and I am so excited to hear their recital performances.’

This year’s competition also saw RCM undergraduate Ilai Avni reach the strings category final on violin. Ilai attended the Purcell School before beginning his studies at the RCM, where he is taught by Professor Rashkovsky. Achievements include winning first prize in the North London Festival for both concerto and recital classes in 2016 and 2017, becoming Brent Young Musician of 2016 and taking third prize in the 2019 International Anton Rubinstein Competition. Ilai was one of the leaders of the main National Youth Orchestra in 2014 and he continued to be a part of the orchestra as a member of the first violin section throughout 2015 and 2016. He has performed in prestigious venues including Wigmore Hall and St Martin in the Fields. 

RCM students have enjoyed many years of success in the BBC Young Musician competition, notably in 2018 when Marie Sato (flute), Francis Bushell (bassoon), Toril Azzalini-Machecler (percussion) and Will Duerden (double bass) reached their category finals and in 2014 when pianist Martin James Bartlett, now an RCM undergraduate, took home the trophy.

The BBC Young Musician 2020 category finals will be available to watch on BBC Four in May. Find out more about the RCM Junior Department here.

Pictured (left-right): Isaac Harari, Jacky Zhang, Alice Gore, Ilai Avni and Toril Azzalini-Machecler

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