Ashwell French horn player and Knights Templar School student Ben Goldscheider ‘a true ambassador’ in BBC Young Musician 2016 final

Ashwell French horn player Ben Goldscheider agonisingly missed out on the title of BBC Young Musician 2016 tonight – but was called ‘a true ambassador’ for his instrument after his memorable televised final performance, and is set to work towards fostering international understanding with his music.

The 18-year-old, who goes to Knights Templar School in Baldock, cut a mature figure in a black suit and white tie live on BBC 4 as he delivered the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 2, accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Mark Wigglesworth at the Barbican Hall in London.

But in what presenter Clemency Burton-Hill called ‘the strongest final I can remember’, Ben was topped by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason in the reckoning of five judges, headed by composer Dobrinka Tabakova. The other finalist was saxophonist Jess Gillam.

Ben’s performance won great acclaim from the judges and presenters. He had told the Comet before the final that he intended to be a pioneer for the French horn, promoting it as a solo instrument – and comments from the professionals suggested that he is well on the way.

Berlin Philharmonic horn player Sarah Willis called Ben ‘a true ambassador for our instrument’.

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“Ben is really going to go out there and spread the word of how wonderful what we do is,” she said.

“To play Strauss 2 in the final of Young Musician of the Year, and not having played it before, it just shows how brave he is. Really incredible.”

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Ben is perhaps set be an ambassador in more than one sense of the word. In October he will start four years at Berlin’s new Barenboim-Said Academy – the legacy of Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian-American academic Edward Said – which works to bridge international divides through music.

Ben said: “I’ll be one of the first batch of students – there are only 30 chosen from all over the world. I feel greatly honoured to be a part of it.”

Ben has been playing the French horn since he was nine, when he took up the instrument after being diagnosed with the lung condition bronchiectasis.

His final performance was preceded by a profile segment in which he was shown practising in Ashwell’s St Mary’s Church.

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