A weekend with the professionals

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Review: Hastings Musical Festival recitals and masterclasses, The Stables Theatre, November 2 and 3. By Marrion Wells.

With the Stables Theatre management playing host, audiences of professional musicians, music teachers, friends and family were present to watch five-star performers passing on their lifetime’s knowledge to tomorrow’s pianists and singers.

Director of Hastings Musical Festival Molly Townson welcomed the audience and introduced the artistic director of the Piano Concerto Competition Professor Frank Wibaut who assured the audience that the informality of the occasion would put the young people at their ease.

First participant was Oliver Grainge playing Debussy’s popular Clair de Lune, followed by Ethan Richardson with a traditional Chinese work. Professor Wibaut similarly gave an encouraging assessment with some gentle suggestions for improvement to Donya Rafati, Natalie Molloy and Isobel Richardson.

Two of Professor Wibaut’s students from the Royal Northern College of Music, Amy Frenzel from the USA and Daria Buitsuik from the Ukraine demonstrated more advanced works

On Saturday evening, second prize winner at the 2003 Piano Concerto Competition Michelle Candotti delighted a full house with a recital which covered the centuries from Bach via Beethoven and Liszt to Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, played with the ease of a seasoned performer.

Sunday’s programe of vocal activity was hosted by Guildhall School of Music’s professor and former BBC Chorus member Ian Kennedy, with accompanist Nicholas Bosworth.

With so many students eager to take advantage of his expertise, an additional session had been arranged. The participants’ choice of piece varied from Handel, Haydn and Mozart to twentieth century composers Roger Quilter, George Butterworh and Benjamin Britten.

Too many to list their names, all were appreciative when Ian gave them practical advice on matters such as breathing and posture, the informality and practicality of his approach making his pupils respond in similar vein, to the delight of the audience.

The audience’s comments on leaving were most appreciative, many asking for a repeat performance next year. With the first day dedicated to the piano and its exponents, the second to the vocal arts, perhaps next time we could also have an orchestral day.