7th March 2019
Writing: Jewook Ryou (Year 12)
Photography: Greg Bealing (Year 12)
Editing: Jack Webb (Year 12)
The initial heats were tense. The piano categories were just two weeks before the final concert and the prospect of performing in the Elgiva Theatre seemed strangely intimidating.
Adjudicating was Mr James Kirby, a distinguished graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire who holds teaching posts at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Royal Holloway and the University of London.
There were several of us competing in the under 17 category for piano solo. Immediately I wondered if I’d be outclassed, with pieces like the whirlwind Scherzo No. 1 in B minor by Chopin being played by Firoze Maddon, a student at the Purcell School. Finally, it was time - I handed over a copy of the music, and walked onto the stage.
The first piece I played was the First Nocturne (Opus 9 No. 1) by Chopin, which conjured up images of Parisienne nights with its strange, solitary melodies. The second was the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in F minor (Opus 2 No. 1), a lighter piece to finish my performance.
After the categories had finished, Mr Kirby was very gracious, giving us helpful tips about the music we had played. For many of us, there were points that had not even crossed our minds and it was very informative.
The result from the heats for different instruments was that two Challoner’s students successfully passed into the final concert - Greg Bealing played solo on the recorder (as a part of the delightful Curiosity Consort), and myself, as the joint winner in my category. The Sonata in D minor by Handel was performed with both zest and subtlety by Greg, and it was quite a spectacle. I played the Nocturne by Chopin.
A particularly humourous entry was Alto’s Lament by Zina Goldrich, which was performed by Alice Martin. As all musicians who have sung the alto part know, it rarely receives the melody - a trope explored to its amusing conclusion in this piece.
At the end, trophies were awarded which was the culmination of our efforts. Greg received two for his performances and I was the joint winner of the Rose Bowl with Firoze Maddon. The prizes were given by the Mayor of Chesham, Councillor Jane MacBean.
Bursaries were announced at the end, provided by the Chesham Valley Male Voice Choir and Chesham Rotary. To my utter surprise, the former was awarded to me - it was a truly humbling moment. Offers were made to both Greg and I to participate in the Rotary Young Musician competition, which Greg has accepted.
Congratulations to him and the best of luck in the future!