SINGERS and instrumentalists from all six Inverclyde high schools had the key to success at an annual competition.

The Rotary Club of Gourock held its popular Young Musician of the Year contest recently and it was another fine display of talent.

Notre Dame High in Greenock hosted this year's competition and it was a home win with pupil Sophie Bysouth, who was crowned top vocalist following her rendition of 'Se tu m’ami' by Pergolesi and 'Waltz of My Heart' by Ivor Novello.

The best instrumentalist honour went to Ben Walker, of St Columba's High in Gourock, whose clarinet interpretations of 'Movement 2' from '3 Intermezzi Op 13' by Stanford and 'Prelude' from a 'Victorian Kitchen Garden' by Paul Reade.

They wowed the expert judging panel of international singer and retired Royal Conservatoire of Scotland vocal coach, Patricia MacMahon; Claire Haslin, RSAMD and Guildhall graduate currently teaching at the Conservatoire and university; and Inverclyde's own Palma Allan, MBE, a music teacher and leading choir activist.

Alan Robertson, president of Gourock Rotary, said: "This year's vocal winner was Sophie Bysouth, who had the judges and audience spellbound.

"The instrumental competition was won by Ben Walker, whose clarinet interpretations were exceptional.

"As usual the standard of contestants was high and the judges had difficult decisions to make."

Hannah McLaughlin was runner-up in the vocalist competition with Abby Wilson in third.

Second in the instrumental section went to Mark Gammon, just ahead of Mollie Nelson.

All participants received a certificate of commendation and the winners from both categories will now compete in the district final on March 1 at the Royal Conservatoire.

Euan McDonald, who was crowned top singer last year, went all the way to the Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland 'Young Musician' finals and was runner-up.

All Inverclyde secondaries were represented at the 2019 showpiece in Notre Dame, with contestants performing in front of a busy audience.

The instrumentalist competition featured marimba, trombone, clarinet, piano, cornet and bass guitar, while the vocalists sang a diverse selection of pieces from classic, contemporary and show music accompanied by their teachers on piano.

Mr Robertson said: "The pupils enjoyed assessments and encouragement from the three distinguished judges whose own awards are too many to mention.

"Chief judge, Mrs MacMahon, commended the obvious hard work put in by the pupils towards their performances and Ms Allan spoke to the dedication above and beyond normal hours that she knows the music teachers of Inverclyde devote to their pupils.

"That there is abundant talent in Inverclyde is not in dispute - last year attaining runner-up."

Gourock Rotary would like to thank Gerard Gordon, principal teacher of music at Notre Dame, for helping to organise the competition.