National Chamber Music Competition + extras

Been learning up Beethoven’s Op11 (B flat major) Piano Trio and Ravel’s Piano Trio, 1st movement for the past 2 terms. All for just a few days worth of competition.

Regional Semifinals (February 26th, 2006)

What a wonderful way to spend our Sunday – in competition. Wandered up to the music block just before 2pm, met up with the rest and Mr. Hughes, and the bunch of us (around 12 of us???) ‘crammed’ into the 50 seater bus (Yup, excess of seats) and made our way to Shebourne’s School for Girls (45min drive away) just getting lost once.

The music department was interesting. I went from one practice room to the next, disgusted by many of their pianos. And when I went into the main recital hall, my jaw dropped. Why was it that there was a full sized Steinway Concert Grand sitting in the corner? Seems to me that they spent all their money on that concert grand and used the remaining little to furnish the many other rooms with sub-average upright pianos. Sadly, we did not use the concert grand in the competition – they brought in another yamaha grand (which wasn’t too bad, but sounded really new).

Did a bit of practise, listened to a few of the other groups practising. Before long, Piano Trio was up. Got George to turn pages (last minute decision) for me. It actually went quite well, and the adjudicator didn’t have much to say (they give about 10 minutes of advice to the group after the performance). He told me to take my time at the end of the Ravel (Thus making the string players have to hold their evil harmonics even longer) and hold back in certain passages. Some of my runs were a bit messy and unclear, but oh well. At least our timings kept together.

Ate packed meals after that, listened to the Millfield string quartet (stunning performance, the adjudicator seemed to have trouble finding things to say and ended up saying things like “Which piece do you like better?” and “That was a great performance”). You could almost immedietly that string quartet had gotten through by the amount of work the adjudicators had to do to come up with comments.

Results – 3 out of 5 of our groups got through. Piano Trio, String quartet and another quartet. Real shame that the cello quintet and the other quartet didn’t get through, but you can’t have everything. That wasn’t too bad, actually.

Regional Finals / National Semifinals (March 09th, 2006)

Now for the bigger one. Hosted at millfield school itself for the southwest, so that was a privilege. (And also, at least I knew the character of the piano before hand). Was on a Thursday, so I got off afternoon lessons (which were music lessons anyway).

Millfield trio+1 practice, obviously was canceled, because the lodge was being used for the competition. And almost every single practice room was taken up by visiting school’s groups and other people. In the end during lunch a bunch of us just invaded Mr. Rhind-Tutt’s room instead. Recorded an interesting rendition of Star Wars theme with Laura on Mr. Rhind-Tutt’s electric piano. Millfield Junior String Quartet didn’t get through, shame.

Also listened to a couple of the other groups, who sounded really good. Started to get worried for our group as well, that we wouldn’t get through. Next piano trio was on. Oh NO, our timings went out TWICE. I just followed whoever had the melody then, hopefully it didn’t sound too horrible. Voicing on the steinway with the soft pedal was exceptionally hard. And for the advice after the performance. The adjudicator spent the entire 10 minutes on ME! It was so embarassing, he even made me get up from the piano three times so that he could demonstrate what I should play, and then asked me to do it. Actually he was quite nice, but the thing was that this was in front of an AUDIENCE! And of course he could have talked to the string players a bit as well.. But he spent it all on me, talking especially about 2 bars in the beethoven. Went out after, exhausted. If piano trio didn’t get through, I’d feel as though it were all my fault, because he spent all the time on me. That was quite an experience.

Listened to the string quartet, again they gave a stunning performance with great communication between the players, and the adjudicators didn’t have much to say.

And for the results. three groups out of around 6/7 would get through to the finals. Who would they be? “Entry no. 106 (I think), Piano Trio, Millfield School”. All the tension went and everything just went ‘whoosh’ when he said that. Wasn’t sure what to think, can’t remember what I was thinking. But it was relief (even though that meant that we have to play in the finals heh), at least I wouldn’t feel guilty at this stage. String Quartet obviously also got through, congrats, and another group from another school. That was quite an achievement, both of our groups got through.

So now, get geared up for the Finals in London on the 19th of March… I doubt we’ll win, but we shall see. I wasn’t sure whether we’d get this far, but we have…

Other music news…

Monday 6th March Recital – Played Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A minor, 1st movement, in the evening recital. For some weird reason, they decided to put me on last (Who ends recitals with a short piece by Mozart?). It went okay, apparently I used too much pedal, but at least I didn’t have any memory lapses. The “G” 2 octaves above middle C on the steinway is such an odd note. Totally different character from the rest of the piano, as though someone cut the G out from another piano and pasted it in the steinway. Oh well. At least I knew about it so I could prepare.

Been having tons of rehearsals for Handel’s Messiah, being sung on the Tuesday, March 14th, 2006, in Well’s Cathedral. I decided to switch from bass to tenor, because the tenors just sounded so weak (too few of them). In one chamber choir practice I ended up being one out of 3 tenors in the whole choir, so that was quite an experience. Also Mr. Barker decided to ‘skip’ one of the rehearsals and I ended up having to accompany the main choir. 4 part score reading, fun. It went fine, actually.

Lastly, mid-somerset festival coming up. Piano Trio, Millfield Trio+1, Brass Group on the 18th of March (Saturday), and 20 minute recital, Piece by classical composer, Piano Concerto on the 22nd of march (wednesday). Followed by my own recital back at millfield the next wednesday and the spring concert the day after.

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