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Two talented students from one village near Haverhill claim top three places in a county music competition




Students at two Linton schools have come first and third in a countywide songwriting competition that attracted 70 entries.

The Rhapsody Songwriting Project organised by Cambridgeshire Music – the county’s music education hub – gave budding musicians aged between seven and 21 from across the county the opportunity to turn their experiences of the coronavirus pandemic into mesmerising melodies.

The tunes by all the finalists will be turned into an album on Spotify.

Isla Mae, winner of the Cambridgeshire Music Rhapsody Song Writing competition. Picture by Mark Westley
Isla Mae, winner of the Cambridgeshire Music Rhapsody Song Writing competition. Picture by Mark Westley

Isla Mae, 14, a student at Linton Village College, won the competition with her haunting song called The Rainbow.

“I was very pleased to find out I had been chosen. I hope for my music to reach a wider audience and for people to find joy in my music.

"This competition has helped me believe in myself more as I am often quite self-doubting,” said Isla Mae.

The artwork for Isla Mae's song, Rainbow, which won the Rhapsody Song Writing competition. Contributed picture
The artwork for Isla Mae's song, Rainbow, which won the Rhapsody Song Writing competition. Contributed picture

Mia, a Year 6 student at Linton Heights Junior School came third with her upbeat song It Has Changed Us.

A talented musician, Mia plays the violin, piano, ukulele and treble recorder, as well as singing in the school choir.

Her music teacher, Emma Mason, said: “Competitions and opportunities like the Rhapsody Songwriting Project have helped to enrich and inspire Mia’s musical education, and I am so proud of everything she has achieved.”

“The main theme that shone through was optimism and hope for the future,” said Cambridgeshire Music’s acting head of curriculum and singing, Liza Field.

“The songs were so uplifting. I particularly liked seeing the many themes covered such as the NHS, Clap for Heroes and home schooling, which epitomised many of the lockdown experiences for young people across the county.

"The judges were really impressed by just how much talent emerged among the 70 entries.”

The panel of three judges, Toby Davies, national advisor for rock & pop at Trinity College London, Sue Marchant, a presenter at Cambridge 105 and Mark Aldous, head of ensembles, Cambridgeshire Music, brought together expertise from across the music industry.

Mr Davies from Trinity said: “The sheer quality of all the entries was staggering, especially given the young age of some of the composers.

"Not only were there complex musical structures to some of the tracks, this was also backed up with some very mature lyrics and song writing skills.

"It was a privilege to be a part of the Rhapsody Songwriting project, and it was great to represent Trinity College London in supporting what has been a great celebration of music during challenging times.”

Matthew Gunn, head of Cambridgeshire Music said: “All of the songs created were beautiful in themselves.

"The quality of lyric writing and musicianship was really enjoyable to hear in the recordings.

"To me, the songs created a snapshot of the impact of the world we live in and the different experiences in young people’s lives across Cambridgeshire, particularly over the last year.

"We have a strong tradition of creativity in the county and I hope these talented young people will all continue to write more songs in the future.”

Finalists from the competition shared their prize-winning performances at a virtual concert last week.

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