We had a delightful evening. There were many sparkling moments of beauty, tranquillity, peace, admiration, excitement and power. The four teenage musicians, all from Woking, performed their hearts out and the audience responded enthusiastically.
After six successful years as a music society, Lionel and I discussed that perhaps it would be good for us to contribute culturally to the local community. We had various ideas but decided to provide a performing platform to talented musicians of school age. Although they may be very young, all the musicians who appeared today have already gone through a number of auditions and competitions, let alone ABRSM music exams. And they will continue to do so – due to the competitive nature of the music industry, it is inevitable. We thought we’d give them an opportunity to perform without the worry of being adjudicated, examined and criticised, just for the very pure purpose of performing and for the love of music.
The first of four musicians was violinist Erika Smith-Gordon who carried great poise. With clear ideas for each piece and good technique to express them, she was able to convey her interpretation to the audience, particularly with the Bruch’s concerto.
Second, soprano Sara Hill was a stunner. Despite being still so young for a soprano, she showed huge promise by singing varied pieces of composers ranging from the 17th to 20th century. I particularly liked Vivaldi’s Domine Deus; a lovely combination of the voice and piano accompaniment.
Next, Laura MacDonald’s expressive cello playing has never failed to impress me, and this evening was no exception. She showed strong control as well, her pianissimo sounds made me shiver. She played two of my favourite cello pieces, Schumann’s Fantasiestucke and Chopin’s Polonaise Brillante, but stunningly beautiful was Prelude by Ernest John Moeran, a composer I was not familiar with at all.
Last but not least, trombonist Christopher Brewer already seemed to have the maturity of a professional performer. His playing was really assured and taught me this evening that a trombone could produce amazingly sensitive and silky sounds. However, a truly breathtaking moment came when he played a piece on the euphonium – the beauty of it was indescribable. Wow!
Today’s concert couldn't have been possible without pianist Alison Rhind, who worked with each performer attentively.
A few members described today’s concert as one of the best they had ever attended – that made me very happy, but all the credit should go to the wonderful young musicians who made it possible. They should be proud of themselves, for possessing this special gift to give treasured moments to listeners, despite their young age. All of them are developing musicians, so of course they still have lots to learn and experience. But everyone who was present this evening would agree that they are doing a great job so far.
Erika Smith-Gordon, violin
- Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 26, 1st movement
- Bach: Violin Concerto in e major BWV 1042, 2nd movement
- Saint-Saens: Introduction & Rondo Capricciosso
Sara Hill, soprano
- Handel: How Beautiful are the Feet from Messiah
- Vivaldi: Domine Deus from ‘Gloria’
- Faure: Les Berceaux
- Donizetti: La Lontananza
- Quilter: Love’s Philosopy
Laura MacDonald, cello
- Chopin: Polonaise Brillante Op. 3
- Schumann: Fantasiestucke Opus 73
- Moeran: Prelude
Christopher Brewster, trombone & euphonium
- Saint-Saens: Cavatine, Opus 144
- Sparke: Soliloquy (transcribed for Euphonium)
- Guilmant: Morceau Symphonique, Opus 88
The soloists were accompanied by Alison Rhind on piano.
Chris is joint first study trombone and euphonium studying at Junior Guildhall School of Music and holding the Trombone and Euphonium Scholarships. He is principal euphonium in their brass band and principal trombone in the Symphony Orchestra and in the Ten Piece Brass Group. Performances have also included chamber music groups opening the Barbican's Milton Court Concert Hall and in the House of Lords.
Chris is previously principal player in Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and Advanced Brass Group. He was in the National Children's Orchestra of GB and has just been awarded a place for the fourth consecutive year in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, playing many times with them in all the major concert halls and in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Other performance highlights include playing on the Mayor's Barge for the Queen's Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames and with a reduced NYO at Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Coronation Gala concert.
Chris is a recent winner of the Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra competition and has previously won a Woking Young Musician's Trust Award and the Una Clarke Young Artist competition.
Aspiring to be a professional trombonist and euphonium player, Chris has gained an ATCL diploma with a high distinction and is currently a 1st year music scholar at Farnborough 6th Form College.
Sara Hill is a young soprano from Knaphill in Woking. She is a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and Surrey Youth Choir.
Most recently with NYCGB she has performed the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten at the Royal Festival Hall under the baton of Marin Alsop, the Monteverdi Vespers in the Royal Albert Hall and a concert at Birmingham Town Hall in which the programme ranged from Mendelssohn to Earth Wind and Fire!
With Surrey Youth Choir in conjunction with the BBC Singers she took part in a performance of the Opera "King Arthur" by Purcell in which she performed several notable solos.
In 2013 Sara won an award from The Woking Young Musicians Trust and the Lorna Patterson Award for Special Achievement in Music from Woking High School. She was invited by the Mayor to sing at an end of year Civic reception where she performed Handel's "Let The Bright Seraphim" from the oratorio Sampson.
Sara is currently a music scholar at St Georges College Weybridge where she is studying Music, French, Spanish and Italian at A Level. She studies singing at the Royal College of Music with Justin Lavender.
Laura lives in Woking and is a music scholar at Guildford High School. She is 17 and attends the Royal College of Music Junior Department where she studies cello with Michal Kaznowski. Laura has played in local music festivals and concerts from the age of 7. She was awarded second prize in the 2013 Woking Young Musician competition and was Godalming Young Musician in 2012. She won an award with the Woking Young Musician’s Trust the same year. Laura has been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years, and is a former member of the National Children’s Orchestras and Surrey County Youth Orchestra. She is also a keen chamber musician and attends Pro Corda, the International Chamber Music Academy. With friends she formed a string trio, Vavello, and they perform as much as possible. In 2014 Laura was a finalist in the Gordon Turner Memorial Competition at the Royal College of Music and in 2013 a finalist in the Marjorie Humby Memorial Competition. Laura’s future engagements include playing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Woking Symphony Orchestra in the early part of 2015.
Erika Smith-Gordon, 14, is a 1st year pupil and music scholar at Wellington College, Crowthorne, where she weekly-boards. Although she was offered a place by the Junior Departments of the Royal College of Music and of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she decided to continue learning violin privately with Lucy-Ellen Spencer in Guildford.
She has always enjoyed performing for people in all kinds of settings; she has played in many concerts, both solo and in orchestras, at her previous and current schools, participated in music festivals in the local area, and also played for local elderly people and primary school children.
She was awarded the Woking Junior Musician of the Year title in 2013. The highlight of last year was to participate in Age UK Surrey’s Christmas Service when she performed solo pieces in Guildford Cathedral.
She is a member of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. At Wellington College, she is a member of the school orchestra, chamber orchestra and string trio. Future engagements include: Beethoven's Romance in F with the Guildford Symphony Orchestra; solo recital at Guildford URC Concert Society; recital in the Second Sunday Concert series at St Paul’s Church Grove Park, Chiswick.
Alison Rhind is recognised as one of the leading collaborative pianists specialising in the repertoire for piano and strings. Her ability to accompany was recognised and nurtured at an early age whilst still at Chetham’s School of Music and she became increasingly in demand throughout her time at Oxford University where she read Music at Wadham College. Chetham’s invited her back immediately she had finished her degree but she completed her studies with Edith Vogel at the Guildhall School of Music before returning there.
In 1994, she moved to the Yehudi Menuhin School where she worked for twelve years. She toured Israel and Germany with the students and was invited to accompany at the prestigious Kronberg Akademie after her recitals there with the school.
During this period, she coached many young instrumentalists with whom she has since forged notable recital partnerships particularly the violinists Alina Ibragimova and Nicola Benedetti with whom she toured the USA and Japan.
Due to increasing amounts of work outside of her job at the school, Alison left to become a freelance accompanist often working with students at the London colleges. The Royal College of Music recognised her work and in 2009 created a post for her as Coach for the String Department which she now combines with freelance recital work. Her work at the college has also lead her to being invited to Oslo and Singapore to coach students there and she has a collaborative relationship with many teachers who send their students to her specifically for duo coaching.
She lives in Surrey with her three children.