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Sackville student Laura crowned BBC Young Musician 2012

By East Grinstead Courier  |  Posted: May 17, 2012

  • TEEN TALENT: Laura van der Heijden, from Forest Row, was crowned the BBC Young Musician 2012

  • focus: Laura can get time off school to pursue music

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A TALENTED teenager hit all the right notes to be crowned the BBC Young Musician 2012.

Sackville School student Laura van der Heijden wowed judges to claim the prestigious title on Sunday.

The 15-year-old dazzled millions of viewers with her performance at The Sage in Gateshead, in which she played Sir William Walton's Cello Concerto.

Laura, who lives in Forest Row, said: "It was a nerve-racking experience, but I think the nerves are very much there beforehand. When you start to play they fall away.

"I make sure I try not to get distracted by anything, so I close my eyes for a few minutes and focus on what I'm doing.

"I was really happy to hear all of the judges' comments and I feel very lucky to be in this position, especially given the talent of the other performers."

Laura was born in England to a Dutch father and a Swiss mother. She discovered her musical talent playing the recorder aged four, and now plays the piano and the cello.

Since late 2008, Laura has been taught the cello by Leonid Gorokhov, and she even travels to Germany, where he moved to two years ago, to continue to learn under his guidance.

"We really click and everything he says is right," she said. "I definitely wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for him."

Laura performed to a sell-out crowd during the Jupiter Chamber Orchestra's last concert at Michael Hall Theatre, in the village, the previous Sunday.

She said it is tricky to find a balance between school work and music, but admitted her teachers are flexible to suit her needs.

Sackville School head teacher Maggie Robson said: "We are all on cloud nine, everyone is thrilled. It was so brilliant to be there, she is such a stunning performer.

"Because music has been so central to her since she joined the school, we have regular meetings with her mum and we discuss any commitments.

"We are very flexible in terms of the time we will allow Laura off school in order for her to pursue her passion.

"She's an inspiration in the way she manages to focus and keep a balanced life.

"I don't know how she does it.

"I don't think I've ever known anyone from a state school to get so far in the competition.

"She manages it because she's incredibly dedicated, but still pretty grounded at the same time."

Laura, who claimed a £2,000 prize and a trophy for her triumph, said she is unsure what the future holds.

"I think I'm just going to go with the flow and see what happens," she said.

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