Judges awarded Cambridge graduate Leo, 23, the £1,000 first place in the Coro Nuovo Sussex Young Musician finals at St Andrews Church, Burgess Hill on Saturday (July 6). Leo is pictured by Alison Willows receiving his cheque from main sponsor Neil Peskett of Tradoak.
Leo, whose father is from Petworth, drew some of the loudest applause of the evening as he showed great sensitivity and controlled vibrato on the mournful yet moving Moeran Prelude and nimbleness on the Beethoven Sonata Number 5.
The second-place award of £500 went to classical guitarist George Robinson, 23, from Chichester.
George’s fluent guitar playing brought out the Iberian warmth and drama of Turina’s Homenaje Tarrega Op 69, while capturing the melody and energy of Gary Ryan’s Sugar Loaf mountain.
Conductor and musician Toby Purser, one of the judges, told Leo and George: “You both brought something truly mesmerising to the performance.”
Addressing all four finalists he said: “All four of you have something incredible to give to the music world.”
The joint runners-up were Maria Luc, 22, also from Chichester and Chichester-born Andy Martin, who both receive £250.
Maria’s dazzling right hand piano work illuminated the Rachmaninov Etude Tableaux, and she drew out the impressionist feel of Debussy’s technically demanding L’Isle Joyeuse.
Andy, on flute, coped well with the pace, whistles and shrieks of Ian Clarke’s highly entertaining Great Train Race, showing a more reflective and passionate side on Lenky’s Aria from Eugene Onegin.
The evening included a performance of 16 pieces of popular music by the Coro Nuovo choir under the title Earth’s Beauty, directed by Andrew Rees. Two of the choir’s best pieces in a fine performance were Czech songs, the delicate and soothing Napadly Pisne and the uplifting charm of Proc Bychom.
The winner of the title will have the chance to perform with the choir and be paid as a professional. The second judge was Catherine Kent, chair of Coro Nuovo.