O'Dea chosen Young Musician of the Year

Conor O’Dea, an 18-year-old student at St. Ignatius Catholic School, is Butterfield’s Young Musician of the Year for 2015.

O’Dea surpassed nine other finalists at the Prospect Playhouse last Thursday night to take home the honor and a $500 cash prize.

Performing “Light of Sothis” by Amy Quate and “Sonata in G Minor” by J.S Bach on the saxophone, O’Dea showed judges and guests his skill, talent and star quality.

O’Dea, who has been playing the alto saxophone for the last six years and tenor sax for the last four, said he has always enjoyed the instruments due to their diversity and global appeal.

“I am delighted to have won the Cayman Islands Young Musician of the year 2015,” he said. “My aim on the night was to play my best and to also enjoy the performance. It was great to see a number of fellow finalists from the 2014 Young Musician competition again, and see how much everyone had improved over the year.

“I would like to thank my music teacher, Ms. Natalie Barber, and also Simon Donoghue, St. Ignatius Catholic School and my parents for all their support and encouragement.”

Vocalist and pianist David Brown, 15, a student at Triple C, was awarded runner-up and a cash prize of $300.

“Last night was fantastic. Everyone did great,” he said. “To God be the glory for letting me win second place.”

Other participating finalists were: Jacie Mascarenhas, Triple C; Miriam Foster, Layman E. Scott; Duncan Anderson, Deidra Campbell and Abby Onfroy, UCCI; Chyna-Rose Bennett and Amy Gillies, Cayman Prep; and Nayil Arana, Cayman School of Music.

Students in the competition, open to those ages 18 and younger, showcased their talents in piano, voice, violin, clarinet, euphonium, guitar and steel pan.

Contestants were required to perform two contrasting solo works for 10 minutes, with one of the works required to be from the classical music genre, and give detailed information abut the two pieces they performed.

Grammy award-winning conductor and violinist John McLaughlin Williams judged the competition along with Stephanie Williams and Dr. Catherine Rand, of the School of Music at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The musicians were judged on technical competency as well as musical performance and risk-taking.

The competition is the brainchild of Frances McConvey, former head of music at George Hicks High School (now Clifton Hunter High School), who started it in 2008 to provide a suitable vehicle for students who wanted to excel and be distinguished beyond receiving gold, silver or bronze for their musical performances at the National Children’s Festival of the Arts.