THE second Andover Young Musician of the Year event held at St Mary’s Church on Thursday took up where last year’s event left off by setting an amazingly high standard of musicianship across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

This year the 15 acts drawn from five local schools – Harrow Way, Rookwood, John Hanson, Testbourne and Test Valley – were again divided into popular and classical.

After each performance in the church, a judging panel of three expert performers gave their opinions to the assembled capacity audience who had the democratic task of deciding the eventual winners.

The judges were encouraging with their comments while at the same time acting as critical friends..

In the popular music category there was a wide choice, but one solo singer excelled with a voice which simply demanded that you listened and enjoyed it.

Courtnie Marsh from John Hanson School sang ‘Read All About it’ by Emeli Sande to a spellbound audience.

She certainly delighted the judges who lauded her tremendous range with composer Julian Dawes describing it as ‘a real performance’.

Others competing in the popular section were also acclaimed.

Rookwood’s Natasha Hansen and Harry Larcombe with Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’ were widely praised for their contribution.

Judge Joe Scicluna, said: “For those of us of a certain age this brought back memories, it was played with real feeling, played well and together.”

Emily Gibbs also stood out as she performed ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Judge Julian Dawes said: “It was a brave choice because it is a very big song”.

Of three pop bands in the competition The Reverant from Test Valley School drew greatest praise with their own composition ‘All I need’ – with the distinctive and strong vocals attracting the most attention.