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Young soloists in the spotlight

Video report: Impressive performances at Hungerford showcase

Young soloists in the spotlight

Yi-Ann Yeung, 12, opened with JS Bach’s Prelude to the Cello Suite No 1 in G Major

Arts for Hungerford’s Young Musicians’ concert attracted a large and appreciative audience out on a wet Saturday evening. Word of these events seems to be spreading – and with very good reason. Six talented young soloists shared the spotlight, resulting in one of the most varied programmes I have seen.

Twelve-year-old cellist Yi-Ann Yeung opened with JS Bach’s Prelude to the Cello Suite No 1 in G Major, a brave choice I thought, with so many illustrious players having recorded this piece, not least Yi-Ann’s idol YoYo Ma.
I needn’t have worried, the tone and control displayed was very impressive. This continued throughout Yi-Ann’s second piece, Fauré’s Elegie.

Saxophonist Joe Pollard, 15, followed. A true showman, who filled the hall with his bright and colourful sound, his impressive technical facility allowed him to put his own stamp on pieces by Denes Agay, James Rae and Bill Holcombe,
while clearly communicating his enthusiasm to the audience.

I’d be willing to bet that none of the audience had heard Sonata for Four Timpani before – offered by percussionist Elsa Voak, 16. George Hamilton-Green’s Log Cabin Blues – played on the xylophone – concluded Elsa’s extremely polished performance.

After a short interval, pianist Asia Movsovic presented Chopin, Mendelssohn and Grieg in a performance that truly belied her 13 years. Chopin’s Nocturne in Bb Minor was played particularly beautifully.

Weber’s Romance gave 12-year-old trombonist George Skeil the perfect opportunity to display his musicality – the long, melodic phrases being handled with ease. Bernstein’s Elegy for Mippy II provided a perfect contrast, accompanied not by the piano, but by foot-stamping from George, who clearly enjoyed this piece.

The concert was concluded by Molly Skeil, 14, playing recorder. Demonstrating the versatility of the recorder as well as her superb playing, Molly began with a medieval dance, moved through the 18th century by way of a Castrucci Sonata and rounded off the evening with a sparkling performance of the first movement of Arnold Cooke’s Recorder Concerto.

Accompanist Sally Goodworth rose brilliantly to the challenge of this eclectic mix of repertoire, providing excellent support to all the performers.

At a time when music in our schools has been hugely affected by funding cuts, it was heartening to see these young players, all of whom clearly devote a huge amount of time and energy to their music – with extremely impressive results.

Review by Sophie Brown and photos by Steve Ambrose

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