Millfield Musician of the Year 2019 – The Review

Millfield Musician of the Year

It was an honour to present the 2019 Millfield Musician of the Year. The competition was founded with the intention to provide a platform for the musicians at Millfield School to perform repertoire in a supportive and encouraging competitive environment.  The beneficial transfer of music skills and disciplines have long since been suggested and recent studies indicate that individuals do benefit from transferable skills, particularly in the business sector, that include time management, focus, determination, goal setting, presentation skills, confidence, micro and macro delineation, problem solving skills and probably most important of all resilience. 

Most musicians make good problem solvers and employers in many sectors, especially business, actively recruit candidates with strong musical backgrounds.  The artificial language skills of the musician have made them attractive recruits in data processing and systems development for over 50 years.  Employers cite that factors that make balanced and broadly skilled candidates that have a musical background amongst business skills and qualifications that include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The ability to read and communicate in an artificial language. Music notation, like mathematics, is an artificial language. For this reason, musicians make good programmers.
  • The ability to deal with large amounts of detail. Musicians are able to navigate large amounts of detail in a meaningful way, while still maintaining an understanding of the higher level objectives.
  • Good memory skills. Most students memorize a number of pieces during their study. This strengthens the mind’s ability to remember speeches, lists and especially diagrams and charts.
  • The ability to work on a repetitive task for a long time when results are not immediate. The need for and importance of meaningful repetition are sometimes overlooked in business. Musicians are better at identifying what needs to be repeated and how to repeat it in a successful way.
  • The ability to manage long term projects. Becoming an expert on a musical instrument is a series of medium and long term projects. Mastering a difficult work is a long term undertaking that can take many years. This discipline prepares the musician to become a successful project manager when they go into business.
  • The ability to prioritize and use time efficiently. The performing musician must frequently prepare a performance with inadequate time. They learn how to prioritize and make the best use of their time to generate the best results possible within the time allowed.
  • The ability to visualize results. Like a successful athlete, the musician must visualize results often in order to achieve them. This practice is used by many successful executives, who frequently visualize the desired results in order to achieve more useful outcomes.
  • The ability to multitask. The musician must prepare multiple works for multiple concerts simultaneously. As a result, they have exceptional multitasking skills.
  • The ability to anticipate and plan for opportunities that others do not see. Musicians have an enhanced ability to anticipate future problems that others may not see. In music they frequently prepare for concerts that they may not play in order to be ready for opportunities that may present themselves in the future. In business they have the ability to identify and prepare for opportunities that others may not see. The ability to analyze a problem more thoroughly and more accurately before designing a solution. Musicians know how to walk around a problem carefully before they jump to a solution. Their solutions tend to be more effective and longer lasting than those who embark on a solution before they fully understand the problem.
  • The ability to solve problems in a creative, non-conventional way that generates better and longer lasting results. This is a result of the above characteristics of the disciplined musician. Because they have these characteristics, they tend to design more thorough solutions. They can approach a problem from multiple perspectives. The mix of these skills frequently results in more robust and longer lasting results.

The final of the 2019 Millfield Musician of the Year brought together the senior category winners from over 143 entries (a 40% increase from 2018), 19.5 hours of performances during lunch and evening sessions over six days. The process was gruelling yet necessary in highlighting the talent, ambition and individuality of our performers. Not only are we developing great musicians’ at Millfield School but we are also developing the transferable skills in these individuals that such a competition promotes. These students will not only be better off musically for the experience but I am sure they will benefit in other areas of their lives from the cross-curricular and transferable skills they have developed on the way. Congratulations to all who took part in our 2019 competition.  We look forward to hearing the performances in 2020 and seeing the development that such a competition promotes in individuals with an higher level of competition, greater music making, admirable sportsmanship all under-pinned by a discourse of achievement and self-development.    


Mr Pierce Brown, Assistant Head of Music (Co-curricular)


The 2019 Millfield Musician of the Year final

The evenings’ proceedings began with a sublime performance by the overall winner of the Junior Vocal category Jasmine Caley, singing There Must be More from ‘Grace Online’. Following this wonderfully engaging performance, the competition-proper began. A spirited performance of John Ireland’s Sea Fever sung by Rowan Wilson swept us away for the first of two sea-themed pieces, the second of which was By the Sea from Sondheim’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ sung characterfully by Florence Lunnon. Continuing our evening of stellar performances was Paige Millard performing the classic Crazy by Patsy Cline with stylistic precision. Next, Elenice Andrews, whose performance seemed to touch your soul, took to the Johnson Hall stage with a beautifully mysterious performance of Vaughan Williams Silent Noon. Returning for his second performance of the evening was the ever-confident Rowan Wilson who treated us to an emotional rendition of Bring Him Home from the hit musical ‘Les Misérables’. Rounding off a hotly contested vocal final was the enigmatic Oska Zaky with a song of his own composition Overnight, performed for us with incredible energy and stage-presence.

The audience were treated to entertainment during the interval by way of the Jazz 4tet consisting of Harvey Morland on Piano, Will Renwick on Bass, Kim Hughes on Drums and the ever-busy Rowan Wilson on Trumpet.  The group performed from the Foyer Balcony and the guests below commented on the fantastic ambience the band provided with their set.

The second half of the competition final began with a performance from our overall winner of the Intermediate Instrumental category, Billy Swift, sharing with us a cool and sophisticated performance of the theme from The Pink Panther. The first of the instrumental competitors was pianist Stephen Zhu, who performed wonderfully the challenging Liebesträume No.3 by Franz Liszt. After this, it was the turn of flautist Tabitha Veitch who swept onstage to effortlessly perform, from memory, the emotionally charged Syrinxfor solo flute by Claude Debussy. Following this, William Broomhead the first of two finalists on the violin, performed assuredly the classic violin showpiece Czardas by Vittorio Monti. Rhys Miller followed this with a blinding performance on the electric guitar of Radiohead’s Just– leaving the audience with a taste for more contemporary repertoire. The second of our piano finalists came next, Yuhka Machino who with grace and energy performed the third movement: Allegro Molto from Kenneth Leighton’s Sonatina No.2. Our penultimate finalist in the instrumental category was flautist Freya Tatham, who created an ethereal ambience during her technically flawless performance of Hypnosis by Ian Clarke. This wonderful occasion culminated in an emotionally mature and technically astounding performance of the second movement: Andantino from Smetana’s Aus der Heimat by outstanding violinist Isabelle Barber.

Though much consideration was needed to choose a winner, it had to be done and our adjudicator Dr Dimitri Scarlato named Rowan Wilson the 2019 Overall Vocal Winner and Isabelle Barber both the Overall Instrumental Winner & Millfield Musician of the Year. Her performance brought the house down and the title was thoroughly deserved.


Mr Chris Docherty (Music Graduate)


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