Yesterday afternoon I had the great pleasure of playing as a “guest performer” at the Winter Concert given by students of the SE22 Piano School, a busy and popular piano teaching practice in East Dulwich (south-east London) run by my colleague and ‘piano chum’, Lorraine Liyanage.
This was, in fact, the second of two concerts. The first concert, earlier in the afternoon, was for more advanced students, and some very talented guest performers. I was invited to play, and to award a prize for the “most exciting performance” by the children. It was a very enjoyable event, despite the sat-nav in my car going slightly bonkers in Clapham and literally forcing me to drive in a circle, instead of directing me to the South Circular road. The venue was the very impressive (but cold!) music centre at Kingsdale Foundation School, and students performed a varied mix of repertoire. It was lovely to see even the most junior students, some of whom were pre-schoolers, playing, if only just Middle C and Middle D. A local catering company provided delicious homemade cakes for the interval, and the whole event had an extremely friendly and supportive atmosphere. There were also performances by cellists, violinists and a clarinettist, while Lorraine’s colleague, Petra, and Lorraine herself, performed Baroque works on the harpsichord, which the SE22 Piano School is fortunate to own.
As performers, we had the slightly unenviable task of playing to quite a noisy audience – very small children cannot be expected to be still and quiet for an hour, let alone the four minutes it takes me to play two Mazurkas by Szymanowski! It was a good test of concentration, and I think the music was well-received: my husband told me afterwards that the children sitting in front of him were bouncing around in their seats during the more “bluesy” measures of the second Mazurka. Once again, I was struck by how wonderful it is for people – performers and audience – to come together to share and enjoy music, whether professional or amateur.