A PIANIST from Ryde has tasted success at one of the nation's most esteemed musical events.

Thomas Luke, 16, has won the keyboard final of BBC Young Musician 2020 and will now progress to the overall semi-final of the competition. He is the first semi-finalist to be announced as part of the 2020 edition of the contest.

Highlights of the BBC Young Musician keyboard final, which was recorded pre-lockdown at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, were broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday (May 3).

The full keyboard final is available to view on the BBC iPlayer. Other finalists in the category were 16-year-old Seijin Yoon, 11-year-old Jacky Zhang, 15-year–old Bridget Yee, and 17-year-old Harvey Lin.

A delighted Thomas said: "Hearing the audience cheer after my performance was an amazing feeling and confirmed to me I had communicated well with them, which is what music is about.

"I was shocked when I heard Peter announce I had won. Having watched the BBC Young Musician competition for years, to be named as the piano winner was unbelievable.

"Much of what happened next was a blur, I remember talking to Anna and Leon about my performance, but I've no idea what we said!

"I hope the exposure I receive from winning the keyboard category will serve as a useful accolade for my future as a performer."

The expert panel of judges for the keyboard final included Russian pianist Katya Apekisheva, who is co-artistic director of the London Piano Festival, celebrated British concert pianist Peter Donohoe, and Angela Dixon, chief executive of award-winning performance venue Saffron Hall.

Part of the BBC cross-platform digital arts festival Culture in Quarantine, hour-long highlights of the BBC Young Musician 2020 category finals are broadcast on BBC Four, while complete concerts will be available on the BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards.

There will also be complementary coverage on BBC Radio 3 and additional content on the BBC Young Musician website, which can be found here.

A spokesperson for Ryde School said: "Ryde School music department is exceptionally proud of Thomas' achievements and success in the Keyboard Category Finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year.

"His dedication and commitment to his music is outstanding and he is a true inspiration to all of our musicians. It has been a privilege to watch his progress over the years from his beginnings as a young enthusiastic pianist to the mature and brilliant musician he is today."

The BBC Young Musician semi-final and final are currently scheduled for broadcast in autumn, along with the final of BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020, which will be staged as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival in November.