The very best musical talent from North Ayrshire's secondary schools came together for a series of memorable performances at Saltcoats Town Hall.

They were competing in the North Ayrshire Young Musician of the Year Competition – an annual celebration of North Ayrshire’s musical talent, sponsored by the Rhona Reid Charitable Trust and Scottish Young Musicians.

Pianist Liam McGrath from Ardrossan Academy was the winner of the Young Musician of the Year prize, while Stella McIntyre from St Matthew's Academy and Greenwood Academy pupil Lily Watkins were announced as the runners-up.

The evening was organised by North Ayrshire Council’s music service and saw the audience treated to some outstanding performances on a range of instruments including piano, clarsach, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, bagpipes as well as singing. 

Liam played Chopin's Etude op 25 no 1 and 'Reflets dans L'eau' by Debussy, for young musician.

Lily sang What Baking Can Do from Waitress and With You from Ghost, while clarsach player Stella performed An t-Eilean Muileach (The Isle of Mull), by Dugald MacPhail, and the traditional piece the Tongadale Reel.

Adjudicators for the event were Aileen Douthwaite, Emma Tomlinson and David Douglas. The judges congratulated all the competitors on their performances and gave some very positive feedback to everyone. 

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The finalists

The finalists, pictured above. Back: North Ayrshire Provost Anthea Dickson, Lily Watkins (Greenwood Academy), Liam McGrath (Ardrossan Academy), Oliver Barr (Largs Academy), Cameron McKenzie (Kilwinning Academy), Abigail Borland (Auchenharvie Academy).  Front: Hannah Smith (Garnock Community Campus), Stella McIntyre (St Matthew’s Academy), Katherine Coyle (Arran High School), Layla Johnstone (Irvine Royal Academy).

After presenting the prizes, North Ayrshire Provost Anthea Dickson said: “Huge congratulations to every young person who took part tonight. You are a credit to your families and schools.

“It has been wonderful to see the range of musical instruments presented, one from each secondary school – and it just highlights the breadth of musical tuition available to support our youngsters in their musical development.

“A special mention also to our music service who are clearly doing a brilliant job coaching and mentoring some truly outstanding musicians."

Liam will now represent North Ayrshire at the Scottish Young Musicians Solo Performer of the Year national final on Sunday 26 May at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

Provost Dickson continued: “Over 30 finalists from across Scotland will compete in this prestigious event and I’m sure Liam will have an amazing experience. We wish him all the best.

“To all the other musicians, keep up your outstanding work and keep enjoying your music.”

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