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Pearl Beach Scholarship and People's Choice winner Kaito Deed (left) and People's Choice runner-up Elana Sydenham.

Conservatorium students shine at Pearl Beach Scholarship concerts

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Gosford High School violinist Kaito Deed and Central Coast Grammar School flautist Elana Sydenham have won the top prizes at the Pearl Beach Senior Scholarship Finals. 

Central Coast Conservatorium of Music student Kaito, 16, took out the Pearl Beach Scholarship and People’s Choice award, while Elana won the People’s Choice Runner-Up award. 

The awards were handed out on May 20 at the annual Music Scholarship concert hosted at Pearl Beach Memorial Hall by Pearl Beach Progress Association and the Irvine Family. Held in partnership with the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music, the annual awards concerts have been running since 2005, offering performance opportunities to students who have excelled in their chosen fields.

PHOTO GALLERY: See photos from the 2023 Pearl Beach Junior Showcase & Scholarship Concerts

Kaito wowed the audience and adjudicator, Charmian Gadd OAM, with his virtuosic performance of Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Camille Saint-Saens. The Year 11 student has been playing violin for 12 years and is a student of Karina Hollands. He is currently concertmaster with Central Coast Youth Orchestra and NSW Regional Youth Orchestra, and was last year’s Pearl Beach People’s Choice winner. 

The $1,000 2023 Pearl Beach Music Scholarship was presented by sponsor Pearly’s Cafe while the People’s Choice Award valued at $500 was presented to Kaito by Russell Grove in memory of his late wife Frances.

“Frances was an avid musician all her life; she started studying piano at age eight and continued her love of music through professional roles in schools and private tuition,” Grove said. “Whenever possible she fostered and nurtured that love of music with young people.”

The People’s Choice Runner Up award of $250, sponsored by McGrath Real Estate Ettalong Beach was presented to Elana, 15, who impressed the audience with her rendition of Andante Pastoral et Scherzettino by Paul Taffanel and an entertaining and energetic performance of The Great Train Race by Ian Clarke which closed the concert. A student of Rosalie Bourne, Elana is also a member of Central Coast Youth Orchestra and is principal flute with NSW Regional Youth Orchestra.

The other finalists were 2022 People’s Choice winner, violinist Minjy Lee; flautist Emma Deed; bassoonist Xavier Cardozo; and trumpet player Jacinta Boyd. 

Adjudicator, Charmian Gadd OAM, thanked the sponsors who donated towards the scholarships. She added it was difficult to choose a winner from the violinists, flute players, bassoon and trumpet, “as it is a bit like apples and pears, and the occasional jackfruit,” but added that the students who played from memory and communicated well with the audience gave stand-out performances. “Every one of those young players has a  possible good future in music,” she said.

Also attending the event was special guest, the Honorable Don Harwin – former NSW Arts Minister.  “Thank you to the Pearl Beach Association and to the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music for a great day of wonderful music,” he said.

“I am so impressed with the quality of the work we have seen. We’ve really had a special treat. There’s a great future ahead for Central Coast Conservatorium –  both in terms of its students and the musical legacy it is going to leave but also as a great place we’re going to enjoy in its revamped home in Mann Street, Gosford.” 

Guest performers this year were 2022 Pearl Beach Scholarship winner Mia Cross  and past Irvine Piano Scholarship winners Chris Chen and Aaron Carey.

In the morning, selected junior students from Central Coast Conservatorium of Music performed in the Pearl Beach Junior Showcase which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary.  

The showcase also included the presentation of the 2023 Irvine Family Piano Scholarship, which was awarded to Emily Robertson who opened the Junior Showcase with her beautiful rendition of First Gymnopedie by Eric Satie.

The other junior performers were Tatiana Wang (violin), Onyu Grace Lee (flute), Daniel Zhang (cello), Grace Moura-Atkins (piano), Trinity Lee (violin), Caitlin Swadell (flute), Dana Hamilton (bassoon), Ehryn Bala (voice), Monika Sydenham (alto sax) and Krys Cox (cello).

Accompanist for the senior concert was Gareth Szakos, while Liisa Munnukka was accompanist for the junior concert.