After COVID-related delays, BBC Young Musician 2020 reaches its climax with the last two rounds on BBC television and radio over one weekend this Spring

Semi Final, 30 April 2021, BBC Four and Grand Final, first weekend in May 2021, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3

Nearly a year after the competition’s category finals were broadcast in May 2020, BBC Young Musician returns for the last two rounds of the 2020 event – delayed as a result of the pandemic – over one weekend on BBC television and radio. Now in its 22nd edition, the leading UK contest for young classical musicians has launched the careers of international stars such as Nicola Benedetti, Mark Simpson and Sheku Kanneh-Mason and celebrates the talent of some of the country’s most promising young performers.

The BBC Young Musician Semi Final – recorded pre-COVID-19 in March 2020 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, at a time when audiences were still able to attend music events without restrictions – is broadcast on BBC Four on Friday 30 April. Competing for the three places in the Grand Final will be the exceptional category winners: 18-year old Annemarie Federle (French horn); 19-year old Coco Tomita (violin); 18-year old Ewan Millar (oboe); 17-year old Fang Zhang (percussion); and 17-year old Thomas Luke (piano).

Introduced by trailblazing organist, conductor, and music education advocate Anna Lapwood, the performances by the semi-finalists will be judged by a panel chaired by Chief Executive of Saffron Hall Angela Dixon and including Director of BBC National Orchestra and Choir of Wales Lisa Tregale; composer John Hardy; and double-bassist and founder and Artistic Director of Chineke! Orchestra Chi-chi Nwanoku, who will select the three musicians progressing to the Grand Final.

The competition’s Grand Final – recorded in April 2021 at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, without an audience in attendance and in strict compliance with current COVID-related government guidelines – is broadcast on BBC Four in the first weekend of May (date TBC). Accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, performing with reduced numbers to allow the required social distancing, the three finalists will compete for the BBC Young Musician 2020 winner title.

Presenting the Final performances are Anna Lapwood, saxophonist Jess Gillam (the first saxophonist to reach the BBC Young Musician Final round in 2016), and broadcaster and BBC Young Musician regular Joise d’Arby, joined by special guest oboist, conductor, and BBC Young Musician 1980 winner Nicholas Daniel. Once again chaired by Angela Dixon, the judging panel for the Grand Final includes composer, clarinettist and BBC Young Musician 2006 winner Mark Simpson, composer Errollyn Wallen, Principal Conductor with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Ryan Bancroft, and experimental composer and turntable artist Shiva Feshareki.

BBC Radio 3 joins BBC Four in celebrating the outstanding young musical talents for the Grand Final.

The Semi Final and Grand Final will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer for 12 months after initial broadcast, with audio from the Grand Final available on BBC Sounds for 30 days.

Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning says: “After one of the most difficult years for the music industry, we are delighted to offer a moment of hope and celebration to our audiences at home and to the artists with the broadcast of the final rounds of the BBC Young Musician competition, with great music-making from the exceptionally talented young musicians, and to provide this important platform for the stars of the future”.

BBC Young Musician Executive Editor Paul Bullock says: “It’s so exciting to be talking about the Grand Final of the BBC Young Musician 2020. Everyone involved is so looking forward to hearing the musicians play once again – one year on! Within days of filming the Semi Final the UK was in full lockdown and for a while we wondered when it would be possible to stage the 2020 Final at all. Thankfully it’s now happening and we’re so thrilled that these special musicians will have their opportunity to perform with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and be seen by audiences across the UK. We’re really grateful to Mark, who makes his third appearance conducting the final of this competition and the BBC Philharmonic for all their support throughout the past year. The Final of BBC Young Musician is always something special and after such a long wait for this one, I’m sure it will only feel more special than ever.”

BBC Young Musician 2020 is managed and produced by BBC Studios Music and Entertainment Wales.