Finding the Music Superstars of Tomorrow

Julian Lloyd Webber first played at Harrogate Music Festival in 1971

Depending on who you listen to, either younger generations are missing out on classical music because of failures in music education going back several decades, or more millennials are being turned onto its boundless brilliance thanks to streaming services and digital platforms such as Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music and YouTube.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. But what isn’t in doubt is that classical music has the power to move, enchant and inspire us – from the works of great composers from the past to electrifying modern day performers.

All the more reason to ensure that future generations of pianists, violinists and cellists et al, have the chance to nurture their musical skills. Yorkshire is certainly one of the vanguards of this in the UK. Renowned events like the Leeds International Piano Competition, founded by the incomparable and much-missed Fanny Waterman, and the Northern Aldborough Festival, have helped establish the county’s reputation for giving young talent the opportunity to shine.

Harrogate Music Festival is very much at the heart of this rich tradition. For more than 50 years our arts charity has been giving a platform to new talent through the hugely popular Young Musicians Series. In 1970, Julian Lloyd-Webber was one of those involved. “It’s one of the very first places where I performed in public,” he told The Yorkshire Post in an interview a few years back. “I first played the Royal Hall in December 1970 when I was 19, at a Beethoven bicentenary concert, and I’ve not looked back since.”

The Young Musicians Series continues to showcase some of the most gifted musicians not only from the UK, but around the world. And over the years it’s provided a springboard for such brilliant, and diverse, artists as Lesley Garrett, Emma Johnson, Paloma Faith and Amy Winehouse.

This summer sees four more of the hottest young musical talents grace the festival stage including prize-winning pianist Iwan Owen, who studied the Royal Northern College of Music, and the violinist Maja Horvat who will be performing works by Mozart, Debussy and Bartok with Robin Green, this year’s guest curator.

The beauty of music festivals, whether it’s Glastonbury, Glyndebourne, or here in Harrogate, is they bring a wide variety of artists and performers together from all kinds of backgrounds to play with, and learn from, one another. It’s also a way for audiences to connect with young performers and see them develop. There’s always a great sense of pleasure to be gleaned from seeing a young musician doing a concert or a gig before they become famous – the ‘I was there when…’ moment.

But it’s not something we should take for granted. If young musicians are going to fulfil their potential they need our support. They need music teachers to set them on their way, they need venues, clubs and festivals where they can play, and, perhaps most importantly, they need audiences to go and see them perform.

Without all these things they wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn, develop, experiment and take risks. Culture enriches our lives and music is at the heart of this. Which is why it’s our job to help today’s young musicians to flourish.

Book Your Tickets Here