Viola player Jaren eyes top BBC music prize

From a starting field of approximately 500 of the most brilliant young musicians in the country, including numerous strings specialists, only 25 are still standing. Next Wednesday, when the Category Finals of BBC’s Young Musician programme take place at Saffron Hall, Essex, one of these prodigious talents will be UCS’s very own Jaren Ziegler from the Upper Remove.

The viola player has navigated two rounds of competition to make the five-strong Strings Final line-up – and pursue his dream of emulating 2016 champion Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Here he explains his Young Musician journey, including how UCS Music has aided his exceptional progress.

The story so far: what’s happened and what’s next?

Jaren: There are five categories in BBC Young Musician: strings, keyboard, brass, woodwind and percussion. The first-round auditions were held across the country in March. Twenty-five people progressed to the second round, called the Category Auditions, which took place during May in Cardiff. Five musicians went through to each of the Category Finals. I’m at this stage – the Strings Final – which is on 6th July. This will be filmed in front of a live audience and broadcast later in the year. I have to prepare 16 minutes of music. The winner of the Strings Final progresses to the Grand Final against the four other category winners.

Why Young Musician and what have you liked best?

Jaren: I have always dreamt of being on Young Musician as I have always watched it. I went to the grand final live in 2016 and was very inspired. This was the year Sheku Kanneh-Mason won so I have definitely looked up to him. The highlight has been the email saying I was through to the Strings Final.

What have you learned individually or musically?

Jaren: It has been incredibly difficult balancing Young Musician with GCSEs. I’ve learnt to balance my time in the best way possible as practising takes at least three hours a day – currently six with the competition near. We receive feedback from each audition which can be very useful.

How have UCS or UCS Music helped prepare you?

Jaren: UCS has been really helpful giving me time to work on my music. I only do eight GCSEs which means I have four hours’ practice time a week at school and I don’t know how I’d cope without this. I’ve been given performance opportunities at school to prepare for the competition which have been incredibly useful because practice runs of a programme are invaluable.

How much has your resilience been tested?

Jaren: I would say these past few months have been the toughest of my life as I have never worked as hard. However, it is extremely rewarding to make it through to the Strings Final and it completely validates all the work.

Finally, any clue as to your String Finals programme?

Knox: Pocket Concerto, 1st Movement
Schumann: Violin Sonata in A minor (for viola), 1st Movement
Vierne: Le soir
Hindemith: Solo Viola Sonata, 4th Movement


Jaren’s BBC profile:
Strings Final tickets:

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