YOUNG musicians at the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival are playing better than ever.
Christina Thomson who judged the woodwind, recorder and brass classes on Wednesday, said she had awarded some of her highest marks.
Three of the first places won received honours grades from her for their performances.
“There are some spectacular young players, and the winners were really excellent,” said Mrs Thomson.
“The general standard is very high and there has been a strong field for the brass solo classes.
“It was very difficult to choose between them and I don’t normally give such high marks.”
Lydia Richardson, of Birkenshaw, was the first of the day to receive the prestigious grade for her oboe performance of Michael Head’s Presto in the Woodwind or Recorder Solo - School Year 7 and under Class.
Mrs Thomson said Lydia showed very promising talent.
Nicola Runkee, from Kirkburton, was next to be given an honours mark, in the Woodwind or Recorder Solo - School Year 9 and under Class, playing Saint-Saens’ Oboe Sonata, 2nd movement.
In the last session of the day Jessica Wilkes, of Harrogate, was awarded an honours grade for Hue’s Fantaisie on flute in the Woodwind or Recorder Solo - Open Class.
Jessica will also be competing in the Solo Instrumentalists’ Challenge.
Coming first in the Brass Solo - Open Class was Tamara Heaton, from New Mill, who Mrs Thompson said played beautifully.
Other competitors who struck a chord with Mrs Thompson were the performances played from memory without any sheet music.
Braving their nerves this way were Katie Sykes and Alice Evans, who played Brahms’ Sonatenatz on piano and violin in the Duo - Open Class, and Jessica Wilkes’ Fantasie.
On Thursday morning it was the turn for the string and guitar classes, which were adjudicated by Joan Foster.
She said the general standard was very good and the competitors had been taught well. She also praised the attitude of the performers.
“Their attitude is to play, not to win, but to listen to the advice that they are given,” she said. “The guitar players were of a very high standard.”
Mrs Foster said the string solo classes had shown the performers had a good technique and enjoyed performing.
She said: “They are getting used to speaking and introducing their pieces, as well as playing. They managed to get the atmosphere of pieces over to the audience, and are performing musically and technically well.”
Mrs Foster said the festival has a very friendly atmosphere which helps the young people, adding that it was in a beautiful venue.
“It’s one of the friendliest festivals I attend,” she said. “The standard is good and it’s efficiently run.”