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Taunton School students win more than 30 awards at Taunton Festival of the Arts

Posted: 5th March 2024

Students from Taunton School achieved huge success at the recent Taunton Festival of the Arts, with their performances being rewarded with more than 30 trophies, as well as high marks and praise.  

Taunton School students who took part in the festival from Tuesday 30th January to Wednesday 7th February 2024 were aged between seven and 16, with the youngest competitors being in Year 3, playing solo violin and piano respectively.  

Students from Taunton Prep School were awarded first place in 15 categories, including: Piano Solo, Sight-reading, Jazz (12 and under), Violin Solo, Woodwind Solo, Woodwind Duet, Bowed Strings Solo, Flute Solo, Musical Vocal Solo, and one student was awarded the prestigious John Playll Cup for the second year in a row. The Prep School’s Senior and Junior choirs both won their respective categories, being awarded the Junior Valerie Hill Shield (Year 5 and 6) and the Senior Priscilla Hodgson Shield (Year 7 and 8). One student won three separate categories with her piano and flute playing, while another student won two categories, including Saxophone, an instrument he only has three months’ experience playing.  

Students from Taunton Senior School also achieved huge success, being awarded first place in 20 categories including: Piano, Brass, Woodwind, Vocal Solo, Singer-Songwriting, Horn Trio, Clarinet Quintet, Strings, and Year 11 Quartet. Overall, the Senior School did 36 different performances across the festival.  

Toby Carden, Director of Music at Taunton School, said:

“We are so proud of the fabulous musical performances of all our students. The results reflect their passion and dedication throughout the year and we are thrilled that their success has been recognised by external adjudicators in this way.

“This historic festival is a reflection of the young musical talent which exists across Taunton and we are delighted to play our part in it.”

Taunton Festival of the Arts has been running since 1913 and provides the opportunity for young performers across the town to showcase their talents and gain valuable feedback from experienced adjudicators. The music arm of the festival will return in January 2025 where Taunton School hopes to achieve similar results.  

The festival was held at various locations across Taunton, including Taunton School which hosted the piano, workshop and music composition section on the first day. A variety of music competitions took place across the festival, including piano, brass, woodwind, strings, guitar, solo singing, choir ensembles, and more. 

Philippa Simmonds, Director of Music & Performing Arts at Taunton Prep School, and conductor of both the award-winning choirs in the festival, said: “I was very impressed by the musical calibre of all participants at the festival and I’m really looking forward to taking the Taunton Prep School singers to their next event, the Barnardo’s National Choir of the Year final at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in March where we will hopefully continue our successful run!” 

Full list of awards won by Taunton School students at Taunton Festival of the Arts 2024:

Prep School:

Winner of Blackdown Trophy (Piano solo)
Jack F (Jack won two separate solo performance trophies)

Winner of Sight-reading challenge
Tongfei D (Piano) (Tongfei won three separate categories)

Winner of Jazz category 12 and under, and Keynes Wyatt Trophy (Violin solo)
James F

Jackson Cup Woodwind Solo winner
Riya N

Intermediate Woodwind Trophy winner
Tongfei D (Flute)

Woodwind Recital winner with Distinction (high marks in competitive class)
Tongfei D (Flute)

Beginner’s Trophy Win
Jack F (Saxophone with only 3 months tuition)

Woodwind Duet winners
Riya N and Olivia B

Bowed Strings Transitional Trophy winner
George C

Williamson Cup winners for Duet 13 and under
James F and Emily D

Vivienne Price Memorial Cup for best music ensemble
Luttrell Consort (selected TPS music scholars, Jack, Emily, James)

Solo vocal results
2nd place achievements for Sophia O, Kayra J, Violet L

Musical Vocal Solo first place winners
Maddie A (10 and under category); Isabel G (12 and under category)

John Playll Cup winner (2 years in a row!)
Esme H

Prep School youngest competitors were Hedley K and Glenda W, both in year 3 and proudly and confidently played solo violin and piano respectively.

Senior School:


Baroque (non Bach) U13 – Sophia H

Baroque (non Bach) U15 – Freya S – Winner with distinction

20th Century U15 – Freya S – Winner with distinction

Grade 7 Repertoire – Freya S – Winner with commended


Brass Solo U16 – Charlotte A

Brass Solo U16 – Eliza H – winner with distinction

Brass Solo U16 – Daniel F


Woodwind Solo U14 – Maddie H- winner with commended

Woodwind Solo U16 – Elsenne O – winner with merit

Grade 7-8 Recital – Charlotte A

Grade 7-8 Recital – Maddie H – Distinction

Grade 7-8 Recital – Katie S – Commended

Grade 7-8 Recital – Ronia C

Open Recital – Eliza H – Distinction


Vocal Solo U14 – Thomasin M-F – commended

Vocal Solo U14 – Freya S – commended

Vocal Solo U16 – Eliza H – winner with distinction

Vocal solo U16 – Lily B

Vocal solo U16 – Chris W

Musical up to 1959 U14 – Thomasin M-F – winner with distinction

Musical up to 1959 U14 – Zachary R

Musical up to 1959 U16 – Emily V

Musical 1960-1999 U14 – Chloe D – distinction

Musical 1960-1999 U16 – Eliza H – commended

Musical after 2000 U14 – Zachary R

Musical after 2000 U14 – Tom R – winner with outstanding

Musical after 2000 U16 – Eliza H- winner with distinction

Singer-songwriter Open – Amelia de J – winner with commended

Vocal solo 1600-1800 U14 – Freya S – commended

Vocal solo 1600-1800 U16 – Chris W

Pop Vocals Open – Eliza H – winner


Ensemble U16 – Y11 Quartet (Nyasha D, Carlton C, Ethan L, Charlotte A) – Merit

Ensemble U16 – Horn Trio (Dan F, Charlotte A, Harry W) – Winner with merit

Ensemble U14 – Clarinet Quintet (Maddie H, Matilda W, Freya S, Thomasin M-F, Fliss B) – winner with distinction

Ensemble U14 – Y9/10 Trio (Freya S, Thomasin M-F, Fliss B) – commended

Duet U14 – Saffron M and Matilda W – commended

Bowed String Solo U14 – Freya Simpson – Commended
Bowed String Solo U14 – Matilda White – Commended
Bowed String Recital Grade 7-8 – Distinction – Winner
Harp Solo U16 – Chloe de Jager – Commended – Winner
Electric Guitar U14 – Jake Maloney – Commended – Winner

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