Winner of Sussex Young Musician of the Year competition announced

24-year-old soprano Jane Burnell from Cuckfield has been crowned the overall winner of the Coro Nuovo Sussex Young Musician of the Year competition.
24-year-old soprano Jane Burnell from Cuckfield24-year-old soprano Jane Burnell from Cuckfield
24-year-old soprano Jane Burnell from Cuckfield

Sponsored by Traditional Oak and Timber Company (Tradoak), the competition gave young musicians the chance to receive cash grants to help support their music studies.

Coro Nuovo chairman Catherine Kent said: “Due to Covid restrictions the competition has been run online for the second year.

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“Nonetheless the competition attracted over 30 entries. The finalists were judged by Sakari Oramo, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. This autumn, Sakari will be conducting the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, which he has conducted since 2014.

“It was Jane’s performances in four songs sung in German of all different styles that won over judge Sakari Oramo and she was awarded the first prize of £1,000 to help her with her music masters studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.”

Jane’s winning performance can be seen on YouTube: On hearing she had won, Jane said: “I am over the moon and still coming to terms with the result! I hope to use the bursary to go towards more language lessons to help my singing repertoire. I am absolutely delighted to have won such a prestigious prize.”

Jane is currently studying for an MMus in classical voice studies at the Royal Northern College, Manchester. Her undergraduate studies were at Leeds Conservatoire. Jane is a regular concert soloist and has sung with many choirs all over the UK and for the past six years has sung with the Rodolfus Foundation.

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As a keen choral singer, she co-founded the Meanwood Ensemble – a classical vocal quartet based in Leeds. She has recorded with Sky TV, Katherine Jenkins and Fox Film Themes..

23-year-old Laurence Cuttriss (clarinet) from Burgess Hill was selected as the runner-up receiving £500 to help establish himself as a professional clarinettist.

Laurence spent his early years performing with youth orchestras and concerts throughout the UK and Europe.

He is studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire where he is studying for a BMus in performance.

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Laurence regularly deputises for orchestras and ensembles and has appeared with Brighton Fringe.

He was awarded two first-place prizes in 2020 and 2021 in the Wilfred Hambleton Clarinet Competition.

He is hoping to go to Krakow in 2022 to perform at the International Festival.

25-year-old Maria Luc (piano) from Chichester and 26-year-old Nancy Holt (mezzo) from Shoreham by Sea, were also finalists and each received £250 to help towards their music studies.

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Nancy has just completed her masters at Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she gained a distinction.

She is now on Guildhall’s Opera Course for the next two years.

She has played many operatic principal roles and made her debut appearance at London’s Barbican Concert Hall last year in a programme of Debussy songs.

She has been a finalist in Chartered Surveyors Vocal Prize and in the Susan Longfield Prize for Female Voices.

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She was due to start at Glyndebourne as part of the Festival Chorus last year but that was cancelled due to Covid.

Maria was a runner-up in the competition two years ago and is now in the final four this year. She studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and Drama.

Maria has studied with the best classical performers – Andreas Schiff, Stephen Hough, Michel Beroff. She has won major piano prizes at the RNCM and in 2020 won the Barbirolli Prize for Cello and Piano. She has played at Wigmore Hall, Wales Millennium Centre as well as Chichester and Liverpool cathedrals.

Catherine added: “Huge congratulations to all our finalists and it was an awfully close competition this year. Once again, we received over 30 applications and the quality of musicianship is outstanding. We launched this competition six years ago as we became increasingly aware that embarking on a professional music career does not come easy and if we want to preserve music of this standard and quality for the next generation of audiences, we need to invest in our young performers.”