Isabel Jay Trophy

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The Isabel Jay Trophy is dedicated to the memory of the D'Oyly Carte and musical comedy star Isabel Jay (read John Cannon's article in Sussex Living, published in 2015), it was presented to the Sussex Branch of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society by her elder daughter, the Hon. Celia Mitchell Anderson, the then Chairman and later co-President.

In 1961 the Sussex Branch of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society decided to run a competition on the same lines as the Blackmore Trophy; her daughter and husband gave this handsome solid silver rose bowl in memory of her mother, Isabel Jay, to be held for one year by the winning team. In this form the competition ran until 1980, during which time it was won by seven different Sussex operatic societies, and Haywards Heath Grammar School, in addition to smaller groups such as The Bad Barts, and ad hoc groups of enthusiasts. The event then continued for eleven more years as non-competitive Isabel Jay Galas, nine of which were part of the Brighton Festival.

For a number of years there were no more awards of the Trophy. However, with the closure of The Gilbert & Sullivan Society (Sussex Branch) it was given in 2013, together with the residue of their Trophy funds (£1000), to the then Mid-Sussex Gilbert & Sullivan Society (since renamed The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Sussex).

From November 2013 until November 2017 it was awarded at the Mid-Sussex Competitive Music Festival to the winner of a class for any Gilbert & Sullivan song, duet, trio or quartet.

Sadly, the Mid-Sussex Competitive Music Festival closed down after the 2018 event, and as a consequence the Trophy was not awarded in 2019. But The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Sussex negotiated with the Brighton Springboard Festival, and as a result, from March 2020 they now include an Adult Class for a Gilbert & Sullivan Aria, with the winner awarded the Isabel Jay Trophy.

Isabel Jay as Patience

Above: Isabel Jay as Patience

Dan Bulman with the Isabel Jay trophy

Above: Dan Bulman with the trophy

Isabel Jay Trophy winners over the years:

Year Winner
1961-62 Jack Peck & Marjorie Flinn
1962-63 The Burgess Hill Operatic Society
1963-64 The Burgess Hill Operatic Society
1964-65 Gwenda Pierssene & Group
(Jack Peck, Phillip Hall, Iris Milsom, Sylvia Hall, Marjorie Peck)
1965-66 Sylvia Baldwin, Douglas Brown, John South
Lewes Road Operatic Society
1966-67 Lewes Road Operatic Society
1967-68 Lewes Road Operatic Society
1968-69 The Worthing Congregational Players
1969-70 The Burgess Hill Operatic Society
Roger Green, Howard Johnson, John Upfold
1970-71 Horsham Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Group:
Brenda Cannon, Daphne Collyer, Ken Griggs, Denis O Mahony, James Harvey
1971-72 Lewes Road Operatic Society
1972-73 The Haywards Heath Grammar School and The Bad Barts
(Jill Johnson, Roger Clow, Laurence Leng)
1973-74 Haywards Heath Operatic Society
1974-75 The Wandering Minstrels
1975-76 East Grinstead Operatic Society
1976-77 East Grinstead Operatic Society
1977-78 Lewes Road Operatic Society
1979-80 East Grinstead Operatic Society
2013-14 Dan Bulman
2014-15 Polly Beaumont
2016-17 Eleanor Grant
2017-18 Jemima Byrne
2018-19 Jemima Byrne

November 2018: Trophy presented to Jemima Byrne

Kenneth Hytch presenting the trophy to Jemima Byrne

There were to have been three in the class...but two withdrew leaving last year's winner, Jemima Byrne, as the only entrant. She was awarded the cup and quite rightly so. She gave a sparkling performance of "Kind Sir, you cannot have the heart" from Gondoliers. She has a lovely voice, perfectly in tune, clear diction, acted it beautifully and produced an effortless top D at the end.

The adjudicator Kenneth Hytch spoke of his love for G&S. He has recently played Jack Point and will be in the chorus for Mikado next Spring.

November 2016: Eleanor Grant

Adjudicator Jane Wilkinson and Trophy winner Eleanor Grant

The Isabel Jay Trophy was awarded at this year's Mid Sussex Competitive Music Festival to the winner of Class 428 for any song from Gilbert and Sullivan. The worthy winner was Eleanor Grant. She sang Josephine's aria 'The Hours Creep on Apace' from HMS Pinafore.

Left: Adjudicator Jane Wilkinson and Trophy winner Eleanor Grant

November 2014: Polly Beaumont

Nicholas Chishold presenting Polly Beaumont with the trophy

The Isabel Jay Trophy was awarded to Polly Beaumont at the Mid Sussex Competitive Music Festival Showcase on 28th November as the winner of class 427 'any song from Gilbert and Sullivan' by a soloist, duet, trio, quartet or ensemble.

Polly is in her final year at Burgess Hill School for Girls, and hopes to read philosophy at university. Her singing teacher is Rebecca Dowden and Festival Chair, also her mother is the Treasurer and Cups Secretary for the Festival.

The showcase was an excellent hour of gorgeous music from students at the festival, Polly with her sister, as members of a violin quartet, played the first movement of Brahms Brandenburg Concerto No 3.

The awards were presented by Nicholas Chisholm former Headmaster at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music.

November 2013: Dan Bulman

The Isabel Jay Trophy was awarded at this year's Mid Sussex Competitive Music Festival to the winner of Class 427 for any song from Gilbert and Sullivan, 16 - 18 years: the worthy winner was Dan Bulman (tenor - photo above), who sang 'A Wandering Minstrel, I' from The Mikado. Like his parents, it is Dan's ambition is to become a professional singer.

The awards were presented at the Festival Showcase on Friday 29th November. Unfortunately, Dan had another urgent rehearsal and was unable to be present at this event when the Trophy, engraved with his name, should have been presented to him personally; however the Committee hopes we can invite him to one of our events. Due to the emotional and intrinsic value of the Trophy the Committee had decided that this would remain in the possession of the Society and the winners would receive a certificate, a miniature engraved cup, and a booklet about Isabel Jay.