When Jennifer Pike won BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2002, she became, at 12 years old, the competition's youngest-ever winner. But her picture hasn't since been plastered all over the classical music media; she has no million-pound record deal; and though she's been giving 30 to 40 concerts a year, she's been equally busy with her studies. As she approaches the grand old age of 18 – which she's celebrating with a recital tomorrow – Pike appears to be a star who said no to stardom.
"The phone began to ring at 9am the morning after the competition," Pike recalls. "And I'd been thinking I could have a nice lie-in... " When the record companies began to circle – apparently Sony and EMI made interested noises – Pike decided to steer clear, at least for the moment, fearing that a deal could slap her with the potentially destructive label of child prodigy.
Five years under the management of the Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) proved just the ticket. "They take up all the BBC winners and make sure that they are properly nurtured," Pike says. "It was great – I wasn't thrown in the deep end. Now I feel ready to move on."
She still has an impressive roster of concerts behind her, including her Proms debut when she was 15, the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra that will be broadcast soon, and an outdoor concert in the Vienna Rathausplatz where she played Mozart with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra to 40,000 people.
She is also preparing for A-levels in English literature and Polish at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester and taking a postgraduate course at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As her profile rises incrementally, she's keen to keep studying – to not put all her eggs in one basket. "I think it's really important, as a musician, to be a well-rounded person, because music is all about communication."
Jennifer Pike's 18th birthday concert, Wigmore Hall, London W1 (020-7935 2141), 8 NovemberReuse content