And the Young Musician of 2019 Is...

The level of talent on show at the Young Musician of the Year continues to be extraordinary. This year however it was the diversity of the talent that has been particularly satisfying.
This article is part of an editorial series on Young Musician of The Year
Young Musician of The Year
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Young Musician of The Year
This article is part of an editorial series on Young Musician of The Year

Twelve year old Ayami Umezawa has been crowned WhichSchoolAdvisor Young Musician of the Year 2019 following ‘a superb performance’, according to the judges at this year’s Finalist Concert.  Held for the first time at the theatre on the iconic QE2 the concert featured a diverse selection of top young musical talent from across the UAE.  As usual there was a strong contingent of pianists – accounting for half of the top ten entries – and one these, Yidi Ma, from Nord Anglia School, took overall second place in the competition.

For Ayami, from Dwight School,  it was second time lucky as she featured in the Finalist Concert last year.  The win represents a personal triumph for the Umezawa family as Ayami’s sister Shoko won the competition last year.  Ayami had borrowed her sister’s ‘lucky dress’ from last year and it obviously did the trick! The judges were extremely impressed by Ayami’s ‘accomplished mastery of the violin’ and her ‘wonderful musicality’. She played one of her favourite pieces Polonaise de Concerto by Wieniawski.  Ayami wins a cash prize of 10,000 dirhams.

Ayami Umezawa

Yidi Ma

Shou Ishikawa

Yidi Ma had also featured previously in the Finalist Concert two years ago. Her playing of La Campanella by Franz Liszt was appreciated by the judges for ‘its wonderful maturity, feeling and understanding’.  In third place was a newcomer to the competition Shou Ishikawa, aged 13,  from Al Bateen Academy in Abu Dhabi.  His ‘superb technique’ was appreciated by the judges.

“The level of talent on show at the concert was quite extraordinary,” said James Mullan, co-founder of “But what was particularly satisfying was the diversity of the talent. So not alone did we have great classical musicians but we also had terrific performances from vocalists, a marimba player and a rap artist.  There was also a wonderful air of collegiality as all of the young artists supported and encouraged each other throughout.  All of the young people who played at the concert, along with their family, friends and supporters should be very proud of themselves”. 

The inaugural Rising Star award went to Kaiyang (Kevin) Hu from Brighton College Abu Dhabi

A new feature in this year’s concert was The Rising Star Award which was awarded by David Westley, co-founder, to a younger musician up to Year 8 who particularly impressed the judges.  The inaugural award went to Kaiyang (Kevin) Hu from Brighton College Abu Dhabi.  Aged just ten years old Kevin delivered an outstanding performance of Mozart’s Sonata in D Major. 

Rapper, Jude Eid, kept it real, winning the loudest applause at the concert

The diversity this year was particularly satisfying, according to James Mullan, co-founder of Here Emily Linge wowed the audience with a fantastic fast/slow version of Don't Stop Believing.

All of the finalists had attended a performance workshop run by a legend in the Dubai music scene Abbo Abbondandalo who coached, advised and encouraged the youngsters on how to deliver their best performance on the day. 

The Dubai EnSENble, a choir for ‘children of determination’, astonished  the audience with their rendition of My UAE.

Dubai 92’s breakfast show hosts George and Kitch,  with co-founder of David Westley, and inaugural Rising Star award Kaiyang. 

Closing the concert, which was entertainingly MCd by Dubai 92’s breakfast show hosts George and Kitch, was Dubai EnSENble, a choir for ‘children of determination’ which was created by Rivaan Mager. They delivered a moving and joyous performance of two songs which was a fitting finale for such a fantastic celebration of music. 

Images from the night


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