The Young Musicians of the Gulf (YMOG) is the most prestigious music competition of its type held in the Gulf region. Hosted by St. Christopher’s School in Bahrain, the competition is open to all British Curriculum schools, who are members of the British Schools in the Middle East organization. With 101 member schools and 95,000 students in ten member countries, success in the competition is without doubt a great achievement. 2017 sees the running of the eighteenth competition and the fourteenth time the British School of Kuwait (BSK) has participated. As usual, Galina Bojilova, the Director of Strings at BSK was instrumental in the preparation of her students, this too being her fourteenth competition. Accompanied by Emily Jeffcott, Piano Music Tutor, BSK students were very well prepared.
BSK entered nine students including a trio, a large ensemble, solo violin and solo piano competitors. In total there were 137 competitors aged from ten to eighteen years.
The BSK’s ‘La Camerata,’ consisting of a pianist accompanist and eight violins were the YMOG 2017 Large Ensemble Winner. Playing ‘La Bella Cubana’ by José White, they earned the best of the twelve large ensembles, and it was the opinion of so many that the standard overall was higher than ever before.
La Camerata’s victory was a wonderful achievement, emulating their success from the 2016 competition. The exceptional standard of their performance is a combination of the immense talent of our young musicians, their dedication to practicing, their unity as a group and the special ability they have to perform to an audience.
Hai Wei Li of Year 8, as a soloist on the piano, competed in The Grand Final for the title of The Young Musician of the Gulf 2017, held in the Sofitel Hotel, a position he had been in previously. He was up against six other soloists, all from Dubai College. These included the YMOG runner-up from 2016, and the two time YMOG Winner from 2014 and 2015, who is also a pianist. Hai Wei played two contrasting pieces, Fantasia in D Minor by Mozart and Hundreds of Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix by Wang Jing-Zhong.
His contrasting renditions were faultless, full of suspense, drama and emotion. Prior to the announcement of the winners, the chief adjudicator, Ashley Wass, described the Young Musician of the Gulf 2017 as ‘someone that all of the judges wanted to hear again and whom was assured of a great future as a musician and performer’; wonderful praise indeed, especially for someone so young. The suspense was palpable and as the winners of the various solo categories were announced, it became more apparent that this was going to be a momentous year for music in BSK. In addition to La Camerata’s success, Hai Wei was announced as the winner of the highly competitive YMOG Bowed String Award.
In 2016, he was the winner of the Piano Award. Could he go one better? And then, the announcement finally came; the Young Musician of the Gulf for 2017 was Hai Wei Li. The response of the audience showed that they were in agreement; Hai Wei was a very popular winner. He was undoubtedly the all-round musician and performer of the competition, playing piano in the BSK Ensemble Trio, Piccoli, leading the violins in La Camerata, and his success on solo violin.
Following their return to Kuwait, Hai Wei and La Camerata performed a recital for all of the students and staff in the Secondary phase prior to the start of their academic day. The gathering was amazed at the most wonderful recital and for many students it was the first time they had heard music of such a high standard played by their friends.
At BSK, School Colours are one of the ways in which students , who have represented or served the school in an exceptional way, can be rewarded, thus in recognition of their achievement, all the musicians received School Colors. Without wishing to steal the limelight from Hai Wei, his sister Feixue won the YMOG in 2009 playing the violin. They are the first brother and sister to achieve this.