A LOCAL girl is hoping to follow in the footsteps of flautist James Galway when she takes to the stage during the inaugural Northern Ireland Young Flute Player of the Year Competition at Belfast City Hall on Saturday March 6.

Clare McDonald may become the successor to Galway's 'golden flute' after battles against three other musicians in the under 19 division.

The competition, which is endorsed by Sir James Galway, is a first for Northern Ireland and possibly even the world.

The modest 'A' level student from Cambridge House School relishes the opportunity to compete with other musical talents.

"I've been playing the flute for ten years," she said. "It all started when I played for Kells and Connor Flute band and it has progressed since then. For the competition I have been preparing a new piece with my tutor Glen Histen."

Claire is indeed a dedicated musician who practises an hour every day and has achieved a grade 8 with distinction. But she seems to be taking the news of impending stardom in her stride.

"I am really excited about the competition, it's a fantastic opportunity to play in front of one of my heroes James Galway," she said.

Claire's music teacher at Cambridge House Mr Mathesson has supported Claire throughout the years commented: "The school is delighted, she has done very well to get to the final, which is of a very high standard.

"Claire has played in the school band since first year and has travelled to Scotland and the Republic of Ireland for competitions. She is a credit to Cambridge House and I will be only too pleased to watch her play during the final."

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Martin Morgan, who made the draw for the order of play at the City Hall, praised the organisers for taking the step of launching this innovative new competition.

"Northern Ireland justifiably has an international reputation for its talented musicians, in every field of music, and any positive step forward which can be taken to nurture and develop new talent for the future has to be welcomed."

Sir James Galway has sent a message of support to the competition organisers, saying: "It is my pleasure to endorse the aim of this competition and its objective of recognising and encouraging the potential of all young flute players throughout the entire community in Northern Ireland."

Order of Play: Under 19 7.30pm – 1, Justin Livingstone (Belfast); 2, Claire McDonald (Ballymena); 3, Jenny Heaney (Ballyclare); 4, Brian Denvir (Newtownabbey).