Rotorua's Shamus Baker has taken home three top awards at the region's Senior Music Scholarship competition - not bad for someone who was asked to compete at the last minute.

The Rotorua Branch of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers of New Zealand held its 29th annual Senior Music Scholarship concert yesterday.

Eight young pianists, ranging in age from 13 to 17, performed this year doing their best to impress the event's adjudicator, world-class musician and teacher, Richard Liu.

Concert reviewer Margaret Stokes said the young musicians demonstrated outstanding musicality and mature interpretation in the polished performances they gave during the course of the evening at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.


"Shamus showed superb musicianship in his virtuoso playing of Sposolizio by Liszt and Les Collines d'Anacapri by Debussy and was awarded first prize of $1000 in addition to winning the ANZCA Best 20th/21st Century Solo with $120 and the Best Presentation Cup," she said.

"I don't quite know if its sunk in yet," Shamus told the Rotorua Daily Post.

"They got me in at the last minute, almost to make up the numbers, and I wasn't intending to do it.

"My teacher Joy Hood said if I entered I would get a placing, but when I turned up I was really impressed by the quality of the others who played at a really high standard."

Shamus said it was "the best day's work of my life" and is hoping to study music at Waikato University in the future.

"I'll use the money to go toward tuition fees or buying some sheet music."

Second prize of $500 and the Chou Best Piano Solo Award of $150 were both awarded to Fergus Byett from Taupo.

"Fergus showed extraordinary control of the piano, especially with his clever performance of Duetto by Mendelssohn," Mrs Stokes said.

"He created a richly interwoven melody of light and shade that symbolised a duet for two singers."

Third prize of $300 went to Marcus Crowe, also from Taupo.

The remaining awards of $100 each went to Zachariah Jans and Matthew Atkinson, both from Rotorua, and Eden Clapperton from Taupo.

Encouragement awards of $50 each went to Denisa Berbece from Rotorua and Sophie Dong from Taupo.

Mr Liu commended all of the performers and acknowledged their courage and musical passion and emphasised the importance of performance in the refinement of their craft as musicians, Mrs Stokes said.