Gunnedah Shire Band member Sebastian Rowe is one of six individual finalists set to play in the 2024 NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition next month.

The 17-year-old musician will perform his selected concerto with the Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra on June 30.

Sebastian and fellow finalists have battled through heat and semi-final rounds to reach the event’s last stage where they will compete for invaluable opportunities and cash prizes up to $10,000.

The competition – open to secondary school students in years 7–12 at schools throughout NSW and the ACT – is in its 40th year and this year attracted nearly 100 entrants.

Sebastian plays Euphonium with the Gunnedah band and was taught from a young age by his grandfather Laurence Rowe and his father Anthony.

Sebastian said his greatest achievement so far is winning the National Euphonium last Easter.

The Year 12 student at Carinya Christian School in Tamworth named Paul Lovatt Cooper as his favourite composer at the moment and his favourite Euphonium artist is David Childs.

Sebastian aspires to attend the Royal Northern College of Music when he finishes school and also wants to become a professional musician one day.

The final in Sydney will be adjudicated by internationally-recognised musicians, violin virtuoso Madeleine Easton and pianist Simon Tedeschi.

Regarded as a stepping-stone to national and international success, the competition has been held annually since 1984 and provides an invaluable performance opportunity for young musicians to showcase their talents as concert soloists accompanied by orchestra.

The list of previous winners is a ‘who’s who’ of famous Australian musicians including Amy Dickson, Natalie Chee, Grace Clifford, Simon Tedeschi and Anna da Silva Chen. The final will also feature a performance of Chopin’s Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise by 2017 winner Leanne Jin. Leanne has since gone on to win the prestigious Lev Vlassenko Competition 2019, was one of two Australians selected for the 2023 Sydney International Piano Competition and is currently completing her
Masters in the US at Yale School of Music.

KPO artistic director and conductor Paul Terracini said it was incredibly encouraging to witness the extremely high standard of competitors.

“With only six available places in the final, it is not an exaggeration to say that there could have been at least twice that number chosen without any drop in quality,” he said.

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