Two young musicians from the southern suburbs recently had an opportunity to play their way up.They were selected to compete in the 33rd National Youth Music Competition held in Parow recently. They were among the 21 promising classical musicians from around the country and Namibia who participated in the competition from Tuesday 10 to Saturday 14 October.It was organised by the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF) in partnership with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) and Fine Music Radio. The competition makes space for those who cannot participate in the Unisa International Music and the ATKV Muziq competitions or are too old for the Samro Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition.Participants are between the ages of 14 and 19.They compete in one of the categories, namely piano, strings, wind and other percussion, harp and marimba. This year’s competition saw four contestants selected for the wind section, six for strings, ten pianists and one percussionist.Six finalists will be announced at the gala concert tonight at 19:00. Prizes with a total value of R145 000, including R30 000 and a gold medal for the overall winner, are up for grabs. The overall winner will also be invited to perform in concerts at Overstrand Arts in Hermanus as well as at the Darling Music Experience. Western Cape finalists will also perform in a concert at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium.Michael Maas, founder and chairperson of the NYMF, says being selected for the competition is already an achievement for the contestants. He says this year, more than a third of the competitors are from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.“This is the third largest music competition for classical musicians in South Africa.“It is the only music competition in the country where the top six finalists are afforded the privilege to perform with the CPO,” says Maas.The six finalists will perform with the CPO at a gala concert under the baton of Brandon Philips, resident conductor of the CPO.Frikkie Odendaal, the competition spokesperson, explains that to enter the competition, contestants entered a video recording of a programme consisting of two contrasting works.Amber de Decker, a learner of Herschel Girls’ School, says being selected is a great achievement as it has taken her a long time to prepare. She says this is her first big opportunity to take part. “I began to focus directly on the competition in about September last year. From then onwards, I have spent as much time as possible preparing my pieces and performing them at every opportunity. I am very proud to have been able to develop the necessary repertoire at the high standard required, as having so many pieces performance-ready at the same time is far beyond what I have achieved in the past,” says De Decker.Nicholas Bruiners from Mowbray says for him this was an opportunity to perform amongst other musicians who are as talented as he is. He says he likes music because it is a strong aspect of self-expression. “You have pieces that evoke different emotions, and for you to present that to whomever you are performing for, is a magical experience,” he says. V Tickets cost R120 each and R90 for pensioners, students and learners. Tickets can be bought at Computicket and Shoprite and Checkers stores.