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Young musicians become first to pass new exam

Hitting the right note: Ross Cooper, left, and Conor Hay, both 17, and Gareth Cooper, 14 have passed their Associates of the Royal Schools of Music exams

Four young musicians made history last week as the first students in Bermuda to pass a new music exam.

Cormac Sagurs, Conor Hay, Ross Cooper and Gareth Cooper completed the Associate of the Royal Schools of Music exams with distinction.

The four performed a selection of solo musical pieces for half an hour with only a three-minute break in the middle.

Ross, from Smith’s Parish, said the length of the exam was his biggest worry because he plays the alto saxophone.

The 17-year-old explained: “I was worried that I’d run out of breath and be stuck.”

Ross, a Saltus Grammar School pupil, said that he performed four pieces that included baroque and neoclassical styles.

He added that, although he had performed the music before, he spent about three months in preparation for the event.

His 14-year-old brother Gareth, who also plays alto saxophone, explained that constant practice helped the two to pace their breathing.

He said: “The concentration to stay in the zone for that long is quite hard, so you have to practise often for long periods of time just to get used to it. Once you do the exam, it feels just like practising.”

Gareth, another Saltus pupil, said that he started playing the saxophone when he was eight years old after he was inspired by his brother.

But he added that he never imagined that he would be taking the advanced exam at the same time as Ross.

Gareth said the two had played together before.

He added that they performed with the Ferio Sax Quartet, a saxophone group from Britain, when they visited Bermuda in March last year.

Gareth said that they also performed a saxophone duet at the Annual Premier’s Concert in November last year.

Conor, who played the violin for his exam, said that he found it difficult balancing his practice with studying for his International Baccalaureate exams. But the 17-year-old added that he handled the exam well. He said: “I was quite pleased — I think it was one of my better performances and it was really good fun.”

Conor, a Warwick Academy pupil from Southampton, said that he planned to keep playing violin as a hobby once he starts university in the autumn.

He added that he also wanted to learn more jazz on the guitar, which he has played for ten years.