A group of eager youngsters, including budding Stone musicians, are aiming to impress Julian Lloyd Webber when he drops into their school to inspire a new generation of performers and to pick two award winners.
Many consider the world renowned cellist to be one of the finest musicians of his time, Lloyd Webber is signed up as a guest VIP judge at the annual music festival at Stafford Grammar School next month, when he will award the top performances in the senior and junior categories.
Described by Strad magazine as the “doyen of British cellists”, the 65 year old virtuoso, composer and principal of the Birmingham Conservatiore has premiered more than 60 works for cello. His 1987 Brit Award-winning Elgar Concerto, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, was chosen as the finest ever version by BBC Music Magazine.
Lloyd Webber has become a household name, not only through Julian’s reputation as a one of the most successful cellists of all time, but also through his elder brother Andrew’s global fame as a composer and impresario of musical theatre. Both of their parents are also recognised musicians.
The prospect of a visit to their school by Professor Julian Lloyd Webber has excited students. “They’re absolutely flabbergasted that someone of his fame and reputation is coming and you can already sense the excitement and nervousness. We have attracted some big names in the past, but those musicians have been more widely recognised through the orchestras they’ve played for or the productions they’ve been involved in. My vision has been to bring someone to Stafford Grammar of great calibre, who is famous as a soloist. Julian is the biggest name of them all and it’s absolutely fantastic that he’s said he’ll come to adjudicate for us,” said the school’s director of music, Gavin Lamplough.
More than 50 pupils are auditioning, including several from Stone, Barlaston and Eccleshall, in a bid to make the final cut of 20 finalists who will vie to catch the attention of the maestro on February 13. The contest will be split equally into under-14 and under-18 age groups.
“I know it will be difficult, but I want our talented young musicians to remain composed on the night rather than trying too hard to play the occasion. Of course they’ll all want to impress someone who is so famous and who is so highly regarded in his field,” added Mr Lamplough.
Julian won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music at the age of 16, and was the London Underground’s first official busker. He has collaborated with a huge range of musicians from Lord Menuhin and Sir Georg Solti to Sir Elton John and Stephane Grappelli. He founded the government’s In Harmony programme and together with his involvement with the charity, Sistema England, the acclaimed cellist continues to help transform the lives of communities in some of the country’s most deprived areas, through the power of music making.
The festival begins at 7pm on Monday 13th February. Tickets can be bought from the school in advance. Adults £5 adults and £3 concessions.