The second final in the Millfield Musician of the Year Competition 2022 was the Contemporary Finals. After a seriously impressive week of heats, those selected from the Vocal, Instrumental and Songwriting categories competed in the finals, adjudicated by Simon Chalk.
The evening began with the Junior Contemporary Vocal Category. First to perform was Charlie, who sang Rocket Man by Elton John. He had excellent stage presence, a ‘costume change,’ and well projected vocals which added to his entertaining rendition of the classic tune. This was followed by Amelie’s performance of Easy On Me by Adele that was full of feeling, channelled through a wonderfully pure tone and intimate stage presence. After Amelie, Will sang Just the Two of Us by Bill Withers; his smooth and confident tone suited the chilled-out groove of the song brilliantly. Tansy took to the stage next with an appropriately moody performance of Burned by Grace Vanderwaal. Her powerful vocals and lovely ad lib sections gave the song fabulous emotion and conviction. To close this section, Megan also sang Easy On Me by Adele. Megan’s use of dynamics and tone to thread different colours throughout the song created a convincing and polished performance.
Following the Junior Contemporary Vocal performances, Rafferty performed Hotel California on the guitar as winner of the Advanced Contemporary Instrumental Category. His performance was full of charismatic creativity on his solos and riffs, with a lovely timbre and tone which suited the moody and wistful atmosphere of the song.
The next section of the evening saw our eight senior vocalists compete to be named Senior Contemporary Vocalist. First to perform was Rainbow, who sang I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston. This well-known song was brilliantly executed, showing wonderful control over vocal techniques and difficult key changes. Next to perform was Eloise, who followed the Adele theme, singing To Be Loved. Her performance was extremely emotive, and she captured the story and heartache beautifully through her dynamic contrasts and changes in vocal colour. Eliza sang next, performing Rise Up by Andrea Day, which was incredibly evocative and intimate whilst showcasing her many different vocal timbres. Following Eliza, Melissa sang Hometown Glory by Adele with wonderfully powerful vocals, and a hugely committed performance which showed good shaping and phrasing. We then heard Patrick perform We Are The Champions by Queen. His strong voice suited this stadium anthem and the long, sustained notes were held beautifully with excellent control. Esme then sang Aretha Franklin’s Ain’t No Way, with wonderful control over the dynamics and fabulous mic-technique which gave her performance a polished and comfortable feel. Next up, Amelie sang Anyone by Demi Lovato. Her performance was meaningful and musical, really drawing the audience into the story she was telling. To close this portion of the evening, Angelina sang Set Fire To The Rain to conclude our several tributes to Adele, showcasing her fabulous and powerful vocals.
We then had our Songwriting section that started with Samuel and Al’s song called Up There. The music oozed with Country atmosphere, and Samuel’s deep vocals revealed the song’s story through excellent lyrics. Al’s guitar playing and backing vocals were intimate and added to the serene and emotive performance. After this duet, Samuel took to the stage to sing his original song Fearless Apathy, which was wonderfully moody and expressive. His lyrics were deeply meaningful, and his powerful vocals conveyed great feeling throughout the performance.
The final group to perform were our instrumentalists from the Diploma Level Contemporary Instrumental Category. First to perform was Harrison who performed Drifting by Andy McKee on guitar. He displayed an exceptional level of skill, which showed the full versatility of the instrument whilst remaining polished, rhythmic, and totally in command. Following Harrison, Danny played Bat Country by Avenge Sevenfold on the drums; his performance was fully committed to the style and atmosphere of the music and full of creativity and rhythm. Next was Ben on guitar, who played Poison by Alice Cooper. He had an excellent use of pedals, which created an array of wonderfully different sounds to complement a fabulous solo. After Ben, Rhys performed Together in Electric Dreams by Phil Oakley on guitar. The opening solo was polished and led seamlessly into the track to create a tremendous rendition of a classic song. Following Rhys, Alex took to the drum kit to perform Whiplash by John Wasson. This performance was exuding stamina and animation, with outstanding rhythm and swing. Next up was Al, who performed an original composition on guitar. The music transitioned between several contrasting sections which allowed Al to showcase the different styles and sounds he is capable of, which created a complex and accomplished performance. To close the evening before the adjudication, Shannon performed Bells Harmonics by Alan Gogoll, a beautifully complex and intimate piece which demonstrated Shannon’s technical capabilities on the guitar and his ability to perform and draw in an audience.
Our effervescent adjudicator Simon Chalk came back from his deliberation to announce our winners. Simon firstly announced Megan as the winner of the Junior Contemporary Vocal Category, commending her engaging and confident performance. Rafferty then received his prize as Advanced Contemporary Instrumental winner. For the Senior Contemporary Vocal Category, Angelina took the winner’s spot, complimented on her story-telling and emotive performance. Samuel and Al took the Songwriting trophy for their collaboration, mentioning the creative guitar part and wonderful sentiment of the lyrics. The final prize to be given out was for the Diploma Level Contemporary Instrumental Category, which was awarded to Alex for his phenomenal performance which Simon was extremely impressed with and predicted a great career in music for him should he choose to pursue it. Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who took part.
The event is available to watch here.
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