Richard Bracknall with his saxophone with Roseberry Topping, near Guisborough in the background. Pic: Mark Pinder/Guzelian Pictures

A Guisborough sixth former won a prestigious musical composition contest on Wednesday evening at an event celebrating the National Park’s 60th birthday.

And young writers from primary schools in Fylingdales and Helmsley won joint first prizes in a story writing competition.

The National Park asked the budding composers and authors to create pieces of work inspired by the North York Moors.

More than 40 students, parents and teachers watched young composer Richard Bracknall win a very special first prize at The Moors National Park Centre at Danby.

Richard’s hard work will mean a Yamaha digital piano worth £1,399 will soon be delivered to his school, Prior Pursglove College, courtesy of Banks (musicroom) of York.

Seven schools in and around the National Park entered students into the composition competition.

Richard, 17, who wrote A Moors Fanfare for a brass ensemble, took home a wooden metronome, provided by Minim Music of Kirkbymoorside, and a musicroom voucher for £60.

He said: “I didn’t expect to get anything at all. I didn’t know what the judge was like and I didn’t know what the competitors were going to be like…It’s all a bit surreal to be honest.”

Runners-up in the competition were Alex Richards, 14, of Ryedale School, who wrote Rolling Slopes of Green for synth strings and E guitar, and, Christopher Loader of Northallerton College, who wrote The National Park for the piano. They received musicroom vouchers for £45 and £30 respectively. The remaining nine finalists received vouchers for £15.

Competition judge Andrew Carter, the internationally renowned York composer, said, “It was not an easy decision. There were some imaginative pieces put in and all the ideas strongly linked not only the musical experiment but encapsulating the topography of the Moors. Some people fell by the way-side who had written a good piece but little of it about the Moors. One person did not follow rule one – three minutes overall limit.

“The winner, Richard Bracknall, wrote a very impressive, musical and imaginative piece that was mature I think beyond his years.

“The way he presented his score was very professional, beautifully presented and all the dynamic markings were in. The shaping and the skilful architecture of the piece were very, very good indeed and it naturally stuck to the rules. It finished exactly on four minutes to the fraction of a second.

“What really came across was this impression of the width and breadth of the moors itself and very nicely scored for a brass quartet – not very easy to do for a young person. Richard had a marvellous idea to get contrast in the piece. First of all the great broad sweep of the majestic tone and then the idea suddenly changes on the North York Moors train at Pickering. We have that marvellous ride on the train with the beautifully brought out rhythm in the music and that went very much to him getting the prize.”

Mr Carter, 72, who is well-known as a writer of both choral miniatures and larger scale concert works for chorus and orchestra, said the talent he had seen in the contest meant he had no worries for the future of music in Yorkshire.

And he recommended the performers get together to form a young composers’ forum.

The diamond anniversary event also presented prizes to the winners of a primary school story writing competition which attracted 14 schools and over 300 stories. Over 70 students, parents and teachers attended the ceremony.

The prize for the overall winner was split between Toby Welford, seven, of Fylingdales Church of England Primary, and, Toby Antcliff, 10, of Helmsley Primary School. The prizes were provided by the New Lyke Wake Club.

The two children each received a £60 book token, a map and compass, and an original, acrylic painting illustrating their stories by artist Julie McLinden. Their stories will be published on the National Park’s website.

The pieces of writing, which were a maximum of 500 words, were inspired by peculiar and unusual place names taken from the map of the North York Moors.

Toby Antcliffe wrote about Adder Stone: “Many years ago on a cold stormy night, the trees rustled like they were trying to keep warm and the grass below was frozen creating a bed of sharp spikes. An adder slithered out of its nest as it heard a strange sound. Suddenly, a slice of silver lightening stretched towards the adder like an old witch’s finger.”

Toby Welford wrote about Ness Point: “Out of the water came a huge monster with prickly spikes all down his back and his name was Fred Ness. He was a distant brother of Nessie from Loch Ness in Scotland and he had been hiding out near Robin Hood’s Bay for centuries.”

Fylingdales and Helmsley schools have won visits by children’s author Theresa Tomlinson who will talk to the children about what it is like to be a professional writer.

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