College Clarinettist Wins £500 In Northamptonshire Music Competition

Princethorpe College clarinet player Ben Pinto has astonished adjudicators at the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust by winning the Nigel Cobbs Fellowship Competition worth £500. The seventeen-year-old performed two contrasting pieces; Milhaud’s Duo Concertant and Spohr’s Second Movement of his First Clarinet Concerto in a tense final against twelve other musicians.

Ben, whose musical career began in Year 2, puts his love of the clarinet down to an assembly he had whilst at primary school. A group of visiting musicians opened his eyes and ears to the sound of the woodwind favourite; and he fell in love. Already playing the piano in order ‘to beat his [older] sister’ Ben’s capacity for hard work quickly outstripped that of his sibling and non-musical mum who took up the piano in a bid to share something with her children. Ben’s rapid trajectory through the formal examination grades saw him pass Grade 8 Piano and Clarinet so long ago he fails to pinpoint the exact year.

For now, it’s all about making it into a Conservatoire to further his passion to become a clarinettist with a national orchestra. Standing between him and that dream are auditions and lots and lots of practice. Practice is something that comes as naturally to this single minded artist as breathing. Two to three hours a day is normal for him alongside juggling A-Level studies in Music, ICT and Physics. Competing at the Nigel Cobbs Fellowship Competition has given Ben, a regular performer with Northamptonshire Clarinet Choir and Youth Orchestra, an additional platform to showcase his audition pieces. “I can practise a single bar of music five or six hundred times and still find ways to improve it. To be frank I was horrified by my performance at the competition but the adjudicators loved it.”

When asked if being a musician is all about seeking perfection Ben explained,

“A lot of the time when you play at this level you’re in pain. My diaphragm and lips are screaming. But I know that in order to get better, to make the air flow ‘less lumpy’, I’ve got to keep working.”

Remarkably this modest Sixth Former, who has performed countless times in front of College audiences, describes himself as shy and ‘not the most emotional of people.’ With his clarinet pressed against his lips, however, the emotion and passion pour from him; no one would dispute that.

From a quiet little boy sitting in primary school assembly to a contender among those vying for coveted places at the country’s top Music Colleges; there’s definitely something pretty emotional about that.

Image shows Princethorpe College Sixth Form Competition Winner; Ben Pinto