A TEENAGE saxophonist has pipped other hopefuls to be named a category winner in the UK’s leading contest for young musicians.

Alexander Bone, of High Coniscliffe, near Darlington, was announced as the winner of the BBC Young Musician’s first-ever jazz award.

The 17-year-old, a former student at Hurworth House School, took part in the final judging session for the award, at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in Cardiff, on Saturday (March 8).

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He was one of five finalists, who performed alongside the renowned Gwilym Simcock Trio and were judged by a panel of experts including Django Bates, Trish Clowes and Julian Joseph.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, the teenager praised the four runners-up - 16-year-old trumpeter Jake Labazzi (trumpet), 13-year-old saxophonist Sean Payne, double bassist Freddie Jensen, 14, and 18-year-old saxophonist Tom Smith.

He said: “Even though I ended up winning, I have to hand it to the other finalists, they are all so talented.

“Backstage, before we found out who had won, we were all wishing each other luck.

“It could easily have been any of them that won it.”

The final will be screened on BBC Four on Friday, May 23, as part of a season of programmes about jazz.

Alexander has been playing the saxophone since the age of six, taught by his father Steve.

He began playing jazz piano at an even younger age and plays in several groups, including big bands and jazz quartets.

In 2009, he was accepted to Chetham’s, the biggest specialist music school in the country, in Manchester.

Now in the first year of his A-Levels, Alexander is passionate about music production.

Judged praised his ‘beautiful sound, good control, ability to guide the band’ and choice of music.

Paul Bullock, executive editor of BBC Young Musician, said: ‘It’s hugely important that the BBC invests in new talent and we’re delighted this year to have introduced the first ever BBC Young Musician jazz award.

“The talent of the applicants we received was remarkable and a true testament to the quality of jazz music-making going on across the UK at the moment.

“We can’t wait to watch Alexander and all the other finalists as they embark on what are sure to be glittering careers.”