Three AYM Award winners progress to BBC Young Musician Category Finals

We’re really proud to support three talented young musicians who have progressed to the category finals of the BBC Young Musician competition this year. 

Thomas Luke, piano

16 year old pianist Thomas Luke has won the Keyboard Final and will compete in the semi-final, due for broadcast in the autumn.

Thomas comes from the Isle of Wight and began piano lessons at the age of four. He attends the Junior Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studies piano with Eleanor Hodgkinson. We’ve supported him in buying his own piano and travel costs to and from the Royal Academy. Thomas has taken part in many of AYM’s events and concerts over the years.

Thomas taking part in a piano masterclass at AYM’s annual Awards day

Jacky Zhang, piano

Pianist Jacky Zhang also featured in the Keyboard Category finals, giving a particularly stunning performance of Schulz-Evler’s piano transcription of Johann Strauss Jr’s “Arabesques” Variations on the Blue Danube Waltz. At just 11 years old, Jacky was the youngest musician to make it through to a Category Final.

Jacky lives in Cambridge and has been playing the piano since he was five. We began supporting his musical journey four years ago, when he joined the Royal College of Music Junior Department at the age of seven. In 2019, Jacky won the first prize at the III Vladimir Krainev Moscow International Piano Competition and the Junior Prize at the Eppan Piano Academy. He was the youngest soloist to perform in our 20th anniversary celebratory concert at Wilton’s Music Hall, London in 2018.

Jacky with AYM’s founder Michael Lewin cutting our anniversary cake in 2018.

Isaac Harari, percussion

Finally, 18 year old Isaac Harari competed in the Percussion Category Finals. Isaac began studying at the Royal College of Music Junior Department in 2016, and joins the undergraduate BMus course in September. He lives in London and applied to AYM for the first time last year. He was chosen to be the recipient of the 2019 Chris Isaac Award for Jazz Music, supported by the friends/family of the late Chris Isaac.

As part of an AYM project late last year, Isaac had the opportunity to meet and work with legendary percussionist and AYM Patron, Dame Evelyn Glennie. Read more about the experience here.

Isaac with Dame Evelyn Glennie and journalist Chris Gunness.

AYM Alumni at BBC Young Musician

Many AYM Alumni have featured in the BBC Young Musician competition over the years, including Jennifer Pike (the 2002 competition winner), Martin James Bartlett (the 2014 competition winner) and Jess Gillam, the first saxophonist ever to reach the concerto final in 2016.

Jess is now AYM’s youngest Patron. She was supported by the charity from the age of 13, when she enrolled at the Junior Royal College of Music. It was here that she first heard about the BBC Young Musician competition.

“AYM are about so much more than financial support,” says Jess, citing the AYM annual Awards Days as one example, where hundreds of young musicians come together with top-level professionals to share their experiences and learn from each other. “It’s a real honour to be an AYM Patron – they’re such a brilliant charity. It’s really important that every child has the chance to experience music: it’s such a part of who we are as humans.”

Jess Gillam at The HopBarn in Nottinghamshire, having performed to raise funds for AYM in November 2019.

To support young musicians like Jess, Thomas, Jacky and Isaac, please consider making a donation.

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