Celebration Concert

Well the Last Night of the Proms may have gone a few weeks earlier but Saturday 29th September saw a packed Hornsea United Reformed Church treated to a wonderful display of music, as varied as the colours of the autumn leaves outside. But who were these talented musicians and what prompted them to turn up and entertain on this particular evening? Well the occasion was the Hornsea Music Festival Celebration Concert, which each year showcases trophy winners for each of the classes of instruments and ensembles taking part. Although the Festival is open to all ages and levels of experience, for this year’s concert we thought we’d try something a bit different and highlight the achievements of the younger performers, particularly violinists, pianists and singers. And didn’t they do themselves proud? With over 30 performers, choosing which ones to write about is a tougher conundrum than you’ll find on Channel 4’s ‘Countdown.’ However for the sake of space choose I must. Many apologies to anyone not mentioned, I just want to give a flavour of the great assortment of talent on offer and I would like to say that all the evening’s singers and instrumentalists gave exemplary performances. The concert featured some very young violinists who acquitted themselves admirably including Percy Cresswell from the Beginners’ Class. Anyone who has ever learnt the violin will know how difficult it is to get a good tone when starting out, but the hard work Percy and the other young players have put in has certainly paid off. The concert was programmed to develop in the way musicians develop, with increasing experience and ability, so as the concert went on we heard such as Mia Stamovata perform ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, a beautiful piece, beautifully played. Another example of growing technical ability was demonstrated by Hollie Goodwin playing the very challenging Fritz Kreisler pieces ‘Preludium’ and ‘Allegro’, an impressive display. We also had wonderful duets from Chrysanthi Gavriilidou + Daniela Piani and Sofia Shevchenko + Tyler Wood. As a brass player, my ears pricked up for the Brass Solo, the ‘Jazz Suite Excerpt’ by Tchaikovsky, played by Oliwia Kubszewska. Her full rich tone filled the church, the sound resounding around the URC building. Next to play was Eileen Wan from Hull Piano School, (who entered many talented musicians to the Festival). She was in the Piano For Beginners Class Age 9 and under. Not only did she give an assured performance of Shostakovich’s ‘Walz,’ she also was presented with the Golden Jubilee Trophy for the musician who achieved the highest mark for any performer in the whole of the 4 day Festival last July. Eileen gained a very well deserved 95 out of 100 marks and was presented with the trophy by a long-time friend of the Festival, Stanley Roocroft, who has expertly adjudicated in Hornsea many times since 1974. Another pianist I wanted to draw attention to is Emily Speight who deftly played a delicate piece called ‘Christmas Day Secrets’ by Dutton, giving an impression of a musician well beyond her years. Emily then was a worthy winner of the Hornsea Town Twinning Association Shield with 92 points for the performer from the Hornsea area with the highest number of points. This was presented by Mrs. Sampson who gave encouraging words to the performers. Other highlights amongst many on the piano were Christine Vong playing ‘Melody’ by Khatchaturian, a great display of dexterity for such a young performer; we also had 2 piano duets and even the 6 hands of Alex Joy, Jess & Emily Larsen playing ‘Beautiful Old Merry-Go-Round in Paris’ a piece which conjured up the feel of an old-time fairground. Henry Milner gave a wonderful rendition of a very lyrical piece drawn from the Jazz repertoire full of expression with a great use of dynamics. The singers also provided many highlights with spell-binding performances from Emma Duffus with ‘The Dormouse’s Carol,’ Grace Ryder singing ‘Castle On A Cloud’ from Les Miserables and Alexis Jagger with the great ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s piece, ‘If I Loved You.’ Alexis demonstrated marvellous vocal control, projection and expression, bringing a real touch of the West End to Hornsea. Alexis was presented with the Strickland-Constable Trophy by the Festival President Mr. Rupert Russell. It wasn’t all very young singers, I also wanted to mention Tom Glossop who sang the folk song The Fields Of Athenry unaccompanied, showing his mastery of the form. I can’t not mention Lyndsey Gallagher who made us feel as though we were in Covent Garden having travelled all the way from Coventry, to sing ‘Vilia’ from The Merry Widow, a real light operatic treat. Which brings me to the remarkable Zoe Clark who entered eight classes winning five trophies. She performed two songs, one was a folk song whilst the other was her own composition, both very well-performed. Zoe’s own piece, for which she accompanied herself on piano, is called ‘Don’t Back Down.’ It’s definitely well worth listening to on Youtube, and if you are able to buy one from itunes then you will be contributing to the charity YMCA’s IAMWHOLE relating to relieving the stigma of mental health issues for young people. Finally, we all got chance to sing that stalwart of the Proms, Jerusalem, and a hearty rendition it was too! And that’s it until next year’s Festival, 3rd July to 6th July 2019! A great, well-attended concert by performers who seem to get up and seemingly sing and play without any nerves. Thanks must go to all the performers, accompanists and the performers’ teachers, as well as the Festival Committee, and not least the audience. I must make a special mention of thanks to Keith Robinson who ably compered the event and who made his last appearance as Chairman of the committee. Between Keith and his wife Judy, there are many years of dedicated service and very hard work which deserves the thanks of all those involved, so thank you very much to Keith, very best wishes! And thanks to our new Chairman Rosalind Willoughby, who has already managed the organising the syllabuses and programming for several years, we look forward to you continuing to steering the Festival to future successes. So, hope to see you next July! Graeme Appleby

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