How Young Musicians Feel On Making Finals...

After going through some amazing entries, we reveal the finalists of the Young Musician of the Year 2018. The decisions this year were harder than ever...
This article is part of an editorial series on Young Musician of The Year
Young Musician of The Year
Do your children attend a UAE school? Take our survey and help other parents.
WhichSchoolAdvisor's annual school survey.
Young Musician of The Year
This article is part of an editorial series on Young Musician of The Year

After receiving the highest ever amount of entries, the finalists for the third UAE Young Musician of the Year have been selected. The 279 entries included exceptionally strong performances, and our judges found it almost impossible reducing the list to a shortlist of 10.

“What an exciting year for's Young Musician of the Year Award with such a great standard and variety of entries from a huge range of different schools. It has been a tough job judging!” Anna Pym, Session Violinist and YMOTYA 2018 judge.

Congratulations to the amazing few who have made it to the final stage. For those of you who have not, keep practicing. We had a higher number of exceptional entries than ever before, and you could well make it to the finals next year... Yes, we will be running the Young Musician of the Year Award again in 2019!

Back to this year however: Here are the 10 shortlisted entries to the UAE's Young Musician of the Year Award 2018.  (Note, list in no particular order of importance).

Shoko Umezawa from Dwight School Dubai chose Scherzo Tarantelle by Wieriawski as she believes the piece is "full of vibes and brilliance.... This piece is like fireworks."

The 14-year-old Shoko told“I am very happy and thankful to be able to play at the theatre. I’d like to perform so that I can give as much thrill that I felt to the audience!” 

Reuben Strobel from Jumeirah English Speaking School, Arabian Ranches is playing Alexander Scriabin preludes 13 & 14. "I chose to submit this recording due to the contrast between the two."

"I'm very pleased to have been shortlisted as a finalist, and look forward to learning as much as I can from this experience.

Rafael Mary from Lycee Francais International submitted Rachmaninoff Prelude Op.3 No 2  which is commonly known as "The Bells of Moscow".  

The 15-year-old told is proof that if you don't succeed at the first attempt, you need to keep trying... "I participated in this competition last year playing the nocturne Op9 No2 by Chopin but I didn't get selected. So trying again this year and getting selected is just incredible and it feels like I'm in a dream."

"I woke up in the morning, saw the email and started to scream!"

"A big thanks to the judges for selecting me!"

Hiroko Hiwatashi from GEMS Wellington International School is playing Golliwog's Cakewalk - Debussy. It is one of her favourite pieces.

Hiroko has been playing the piano for 11 years and says her music teachers are her inspiration. "They allowed me to understand more about the musical world and explore it in a different way. I am delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist and I hope to enjoy the rest!”

Sayaka Okada from Jumeirah English Speaking School, Arabian Ranches chose to submit an excerpt from Schumman's Aufschwung as she loves the Romantic period and is trying to bring out and recreate all of the emotions that the composers felt... Our judges clearly thought she succeeded!

Sayaka also says her inspiration came from all of the music teachers that have encouraged and inspired her to become a better musician.

She said: “To be shortlisted in the ‘Young Musicians of the Year’ competition is so exciting, and I cannot wait to meet all of the extremely talented musicians at the final!”

Kayang Hu from Brighton College submitted Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum by Debussy. He said: "This is the first piece of Debussy's Children's Corner. It shows figure independence with 20th Century vocabulary. It starts with a fast and light movement and ends with a wild bang. I like the melody, which Debussy said better be played early in the morning."

Kaiyang has been learning piano since he was four-years-old. He told “I am very happy to be shortlisted for this competition and very much look forward to the masterclass and the concert at the Madinat Theatre!"

Ayami Umezawa from Dwight School is playing Spanish Symphony by Lalo. "I like this music," she told us, "because it has a lot of cool, beautiful, exciting and tender places." 

The 11-year-old, and sibling of another finalist, Ayami, told “I love this exotic, powerful music. I hope everyone can feel the air of Spain!"

Tyana Madelaine from Dubai English Speaking College submitted Hold Hands, which she has written and composed herself.

Tyana started singing and DJing with the support of her dad, from a very young age, and has already released three songs - ‘Snap That’, ‘Losing Ourselves’ and most recently ‘Hold Hands’ featuring Gunz. 

"Growing up in Dubai, I live a very privilege life and topped with the fact that I am an only child.  My parents constantly emphasise as to how lucky and fortunate we are and at the same time continuously reminds me of those less fortunate than myself. I am currently working on releasing a new song for a charity cause 'Make a Child Smile', entitled 'Better Tomorrow'.”

Millie Ann Page from GEMS Wellington Silicon Oasis submitted Peekabo which she wrote and composed. "As a band, we came together to enhance the song further. Jack Kivi (guitarist) wrote the solo, Juan Angulo (drums) added the drums, and Angel Valencia (guitarist) plays the rhythm guitar. We wrote this song to express our feelings of the importance of attention being given to teenage mental health."

Millie has been singing since the age of four and has been part of the ZeroDay band, since early April 2018. She told us:

“We feel incredibly lucky to have been shortlisted for this competition as it gives us the opportunity to show off our skills individually and as a band and inspire other musicians to do the same.”

Parvathi Nair from GEMS Our Own English School is singing Love on the Brain by Rihanna. "I chose this song because I love the juxtaposition of an old school soul feel with modern lyrics and not to mention the fact that it's an incredibly fun and catchy number which shows great vocal versatility."

Pavarthy told she is "super excited" and honoured to have made the shortlist this year.

“I can't wait to interact with the other extremely talented musicians and take the stage on November 3rd!”

Some of the very biggest supporters of the finalists are the school's music departments.

Music coordinator Danilelle Boylan at GEMS Wellington Silicon Oasis told itsarts department was extremely proud of Millie. "Millie is a dedicated singer/songwriter with huge amount of passion for what she does – this shines through in her songs and performances. She regularly performs within the school and is a role model for her peers.

Mr. Lee Clark, Music Teacher at Dwight School has equally strong feelings about siblings Shoko and Ayami. In my 18 years of teaching I have not met any student that has the skill level on the violin that Shoko and Ayami have. For the sisters to have made it to the shortlist for Young Musician of the Year is a fantastic achievement and a testament to their hard work and dedication to music.”

Matthew Price, Director of Music at JESS Dubai, believes finalista Reuben and Sayaka are exceptional musicians, and is delighted their talents have been recognised in making the shortlist for this competition.  "Their hours of practice, the focus they give to their music and their sheer perseverance are certainly reaping rewards. Everyone at JESS is supporting them and wishing them every success,” he said.

The competition is now open for 'People's Choice Award'. You can vote for your favourite video here.

The shortlisted students will attend a masterclass with Abbo Abbondandolo, who will prepare and mentor students for their performance on November 3 at the Madinat Theatre in Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

The Winner and two runners up will be announced the day after the concert.

You can register and secure your place at the Madinat Theatre for the YMOTYA 2018 concert, by clicking here.

Latest UAE articles
Courses & Curricula

Feb Half Term Camps Dubai 2023: The Big List!

It's that time again; schools in Dubai are soon to close for half term and we know that yo…

Choosing A School

Why Choose the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP)?

MYP students at Dubai International Academy - Al Barsha As your child races through their …

Courses & Curricula

UK Summer Schools 2023

A summer school programme at a UK boarding school is a great opportunity to get a taste of…

School Performance

Sharjah School Inspections to be Published April

Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) is set to publish the results of its first comp…

New Schools

First School for Dubai South to Open Sept 2024

Dubai South has signed an agreemenet with school investor and operator, Bright Capital Inv…


Heavy Rain: Which UAE Schools Have Closed?

With heavy rain in Dubai and the northern emirates on Wednesday, and more falling Thursday…


Schools to Remain Open Despite Rain - KHDA

The KHDA has confirmed via social media that schools will remain open on Thursday despite …

Choosing A School

Are School Based Nurseries the Best Option?

As of 2021, KHDA has eased the path for Dubai schools to open early childhood centres with…

0 Schools Selected
keyboard_arrow_down keyboard_arrow_up
Your selection Clear All