Horsham percussionist wins Sussex Young Musician of the Year Award

Toril Azzalini-Machecler

Toril Azzalini-Machecler - Credit: Archant

Eighteen-year-old percussionist Toril Azzalini-Machecler recently began his studies at the Royal College of Music

An eighteen-year-old percussionist from Horsham has scooped this year’s Coro Nuovo Sussex Young Musician of the Year Award.

Toril Azzalini-Machecler, who recently began his studies at the Royal College of Music, started playing percussion when he was six, and also plays piano and trombone.

Toril reached the Percussion Finals of the BBC Young Musician both in 2018 and 2020 and he has had the opportunity of being involved in a variety of projects such as playing at the Glyndebourne Opera House, the BBC Proms and touring the UK with Chineke! Orchestra. Toril was also the youngest member of the LSO Percussion Academy and has played alongside Dame Evelyn Glennie. Toril received first prize of £1,000 which he will use to help him with the cost of his undergraduate studies. On hearing he had won the 2020 award, Toril said: “I feel both humbled and valued as a performer - I heard all the other candidates’ performances and thought they were amazing. This is going to help me so much with my future studies.”

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The competition was judged by a panel of industry experts including Olivier Award-winning conductor Mark Wigglesworth, broadcaster Katie Derham, and composer Jonathan Dove CBE. Soprano Helen Lacey (26) from Wadhurst was selected as the runner-up, receiving £500 to help with her setting up an arts company promoting art-song, poetry and story while she is studying at the Royal Academy of Music.

Additionally, 23-year-old Eliette Harris (violin) from Brighton, 24 year-old Georgia Mae-Ellis (mezzo soprano) from Laughton and 18-year-old James Andrews (organ, piano) from Brighton were named as finalists and each received £250 to help towards their music studies.

Catherine Kent, Chair of choir Coro Nuovo, which launched the competition, said: “Huge congratulations to Toril on winning this year’s competition, and to Helen, Eliette, Georgia and James for their achievements. We were absolutely astounded by the volume of entries to this year’s competition and the quality of the audition performances.

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“We launched this competition five years ago as we became increasingly aware that embarking on a professional music career does not come easy — especially with mainstream schools scaling back on the arts, and the ever-rising cost of tuition, exams, and instruments. I really hope these bursaries help out and I look forward to following these young musicians’ careers.”

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