Edinburgh cellist, 17, wins top music prize

A 17-year-old cellist from Edinburgh has won a highly prestigious award presented by Scotland’s national music school.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:55 am
Layla Ballard won the top music prize.
Layla Ballard won the top music prize.

Layla Ballard, in her last year at St Mary’s Music School, was declared the winner of the Directors’ Recital Prize 2021 following a closely contested final with three other senior soloists.

The other finalists were Benjamin Giblin (flute), aged 18 from Edinburgh 17-year-old Lachlan Kennedy (violin) from Glasgow and Bulgarian-Russian-American, Pavlina Gusheva, age 17 (piano).

The four senior finalist soloists competed before a distinguished panel of judges for the award which took place at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh and was live streamed to an audience of parents, alumni and extended families.

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Layla said: "Walking onto the stage after so many months of not being able to perform live felt like a huge achievement in itself.”

In September Layla will be starting her studies at the Royal College of Music in London. She has been part of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years and has played in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Konzerthaus in Berlin and Queens Hall in Edinburgh as an orchestral player and soloist.

“To have won the DRP felt like such an amazing end to my time at this school and I couldn’t thank my friends and the teachers more for all the support they have provided to help me get this far and for preparing me for the next step in my musical career.”

Jo Buckley, chair of the judging panel, described Layla’s performance as “very moving and compelling” and that it “completely swept us away.”

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