APPLAUSE filled Swindon’s Arts Centre last night as some of the most talented musicians in the area came together to compete for the Instrumental Challenge Cup.

The venue warmed to the harmonious sounds as a dozen of Swindon’s gifted musicans took to the stage in the Instrumental Championship of the Swindon Music Festival.

Each competitor had already showcased their respective categories over the course of the festival before taking on each other for the top prize.

Yesterday, 11 more winners snapped up the prizes in their class, including schoolgirl Tamara Lee who walked away with the Holmes Music Girls Solo Trophy.

The 11-year-old from Haydonleigh Primary School, who sang a Tragic Story by Benjamin Britten, said: “I was excited but nervous. It is a bit nerve-wracking.

“I love singing, I sing all the time.

“I didn’t expect to win. But it’s really nice that I have.”

A dozen outstanding players from primary school pupils to experienced senior pianists, who each came top in their respective categories over the past few days, will take to the stage at the Arts Centre this evening for a final test of their expertise, natural musicality and passion at the championship.

Caroline Clemmow, one of the adjudicators at this year’s festival, has been very impressed by the quality of the performances coming through this year.

She said: “I think the level of talent has been tremendous and there’s been a particular interest in modern and jazzy music, especially among the younger ones, so I have been encouraging there to be a youth jazz club of some sort.

“It’s been wonderful, even the tiny ones just bounce on stage and have no nerves at all because they enjoy it so much. And that’s the most important thing, that people are getting up and enjoying music and performing.”

This Is Wiltshire:

Ruskin School choir

This year marks the 105th annual musical extravaganza and so far more than 300 vocalists, duets, guitarists and woodwind musicians have competed to be crowned top of the class. Hundreds more are still expected to grace the stage before the close of the festival on Saturday.

Despite having a dedicated team of organisers behind the scenes, the Swindon Music Festival is always looking for volunteers to help them out.

Caroline said: “The people behind the scenes really deserve a mention because they work so hard and they really keep the festival going.

“It’s also another good way to get involved with music and the festival, and they are always looking for volunteers.”

The junior vocal championship will take place on Friday followed by the senior vocal championship and supreme championship on Saturday.


  • Piano Solo – Beginners: Olivia Lim
  • Piano Solo – 7 and under: Sasha Fernandes
  • Piano Solo – Grade 1: Benjamin McLean (The Maureen Barkham Trophy)
  • Piano Solo – 11 and under: Naveen Navaratne
  • Piano Solo – Grade 2: Tanisha Navaratne (The Florence Hawkins Cup)
  • Modern Popular Piano Solo, 9 and under: Thomas Hood
  • Piano Solo – 9 and under: Alex Kirvar
  • Piano Sonata Solo – 16 and under: Kimberley Mok (The Dennis Stow Trophy)
  • Instrumental Ensemble: Swindon School of Brass (SYM Ensemble Trophy)
  • Family Instrumental: Henry Family (The Arkell Family Cup)
  • Instrumental Recital, 17 and over: Amy Dineen (Swindon Recital Series Senior Trophy)
  • Instrumental Concerto: Amy Dineen
  • Instrumental Solo (Jazz), Grades 5 – 8: Samuel James (The Eric Day Trophy)
  • Strings, Grades 7 – 8: Rebecca Henry
  • Recorder Solo, Grades 5 – 6: Charlotte Balfour