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Blenheim Pianist Recipient Of Queen Elizabeth II Music Award 2024

Sixteen-year-old Sophia Jones from Blenheim is the recipient of this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Music Award.

Nominated by her sister Kimberly Mena (née Jones) – co-winner of the QEII Award in 2014 – Sophia has been recognised for her efforts and achievements in piano, both as a pianist and piano teacher.

Kimberly said in her nomination that Sophia was hard-working and dedicated to excellence in everything she did. “She is responsible and goal oriented and is already looking at working towards her ATCL exams (both teaching and performance). She is currently saving up for a better piano to help her continue to progress.”

Mayor Nadine Taylor congratulated Sophia at today’s ceremony at Council Chambers and acknowledged her achievements, saying the accolade was well deserved.

“It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate one of Marlborough’s talented young people,” Mayor Taylor said. “It’s clear that musical talent most definitely runs in the family.”

In November 2023, Sophia sat her Grade 8 Trinity Piano exam and passed with distinction. The examiner noted that Sophia’s performance was assured and that she transitioned smoothly between the pieces – which varied from classical through to ragtime. The examiner further noted that Sophia had an ability to move confidently between the different styles and she showed a well-developed and convincing level of personal commitment, Mayor Taylor said.

The QEII Music Award was established in 1963 following a visit to New Zealand by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Set up with contributions from local councils throughout the region, today the Kaikōura and Marlborough district councils administer the award. The grant helps recipients continue musical training.

Both councils have the responsibility for administering the award, to assist with continuing music training for the brightest young talent.

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