Last night was a special one at Clandeboye 2013 as the classical music festival gave its stage over to young Irish musicians.
With a series of awards and prizes at stake the estate hosted a bill of players with talent beyond their years. Two redheaded Aislings, Deevy and McCarthy, opened with charming performances on horn and violin.
Next, soprano Rachel Goode unveiled a stunning voice.
Martin Moriarty's turn was as passionate and dramatic as the teenage violist's cheeks are rosy, while bassoonist Thomas Porter ushered in the interval in characterful fashion. Christopher Ellis got the second half off to a rousing start with his prodigious mastery of the cello, eliciting the first whoops of the evening from the appreciative crowd.
Elsewhere, clarinetist Leonine Bluett, Béatrice Cazals on violin, pianist Adam McDonagh and William Lehane on cello gave arresting performances. Sure, the festival's guest musicians – who sat in judgment in the front row like the classiest X Factor panel ever – may have noticed the odd flaw, but to us mere mortals it sounded great.
Still, someone had to 'win', and last night it was a three-way tie of Goode, Ellis and Bluett each receiving £2,000 from the Flax Trust, and McDonagh bagging the £1,000 Alan Gillespie Ulster Bank Award.
The audience were also winners, being presented with a delightful evening's music.