The Manx Music, Speech and Dance Festival, supported by the Dandara Group, awarded several scholarships to promising young musicians, singers, dancers and actors at the end of Guild week 2017, in celebration of the Festival’s 125th anniversary.
One lucky recipient was 16-year-old Joshua Brown, a talented young saxophonist who wowed adjudicators and audiences alike with his playing during April’s Festival. Josh used his award to further his music studies by having lessons with renowned saxophonist, composer and record producer John Harle.
John, described by the BBC as “the most recorded saxophonist in the world”, has enjoyed an illustrious musical career; an Ivor Novello award winner, he has been artistic advisor to musical legends such as Sir Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, as well as producing for diverse artists such as Lesley Garrett and Herbie Hancock. He is also famous for composing many well-known film and television scores and themes, most notably the theme tune to the BBC TV’s Silent Witness.
Using his scholarship, Josh travelled to meet John and, over the course of two days, enjoyed lessons with the maestro.
Josh said: ‘I had an incredible time. I learned so much and found it all very inspiring. Not only did John tell me ways in which I can improve my playing but he also gave me some ideas of different possibilities further down the line and how I can make a career out of playing the saxophone.’
Sarah Kelly, Chairman of the Guild, added: ‘We are delighted to support young people in the Isle of Man who have taken part in the Guild, recognising their talent and dedication, and we were extremely excited to hear of the wonderful opportunity given to Josh as a result of his award.’
Last year, the Festival took the decision to amalgamate the various small scholarships and legacies left over the years into substantial scholarships of up to £1,000, and four awards were made to celebrate the Guild’s special anniversary. They were to John Kaighin for singing, Jack Smollen for drama, Skyler Aitcheson for dance and Josh for music.
The Executive Committee of the Guild has also announced that next year, the Festival Scholarship will be awarded for drama, and the scholarships will then be awarded in rotation through the disciplines over the next four years.
Sarah continued: ‘Josh has used his scholarship in exactly the way the scholarships are intended – to provide opportunity and a way of furthering study in the arts which would perhaps not be available locally or which needs financial support.’
Josh thanked the Guild for an amazing and life-changing opportunity, and added: ‘This has pushed me to want to become the best musician I can be.’
The 2018 Manx Competitive Music, Speech and Dance Festival will run at the Villa Marina from 20th-28th April 2018. In June it was confirmed that homebuilder Dandara would continue the title sponsorship it began in 2015 for a further three years.
Details of Guild week 2018 will be contained in the Festival Syllabus, which will be available from outlets Island-wide in October.
Photograph - John Harle and Josh Brown.