My first day was saturday March 18th – Took part in three classes.
1 – Trio+1 for chamber music class
2 – Brass Group for ensemble class
3 – Piano Trio for some other chamber class
Left Millfield at about 8am on a school coach, 2 of my fingers were hurting (and one bleeding slightly), so it couldn’t be much of a good day, could it?
Got to Bath, went into the Guild Hall and got ready for Trio+1 (first on in the class) to play Quantz Trio Sonata in G minor, 1st and 3rd movements. Katy’s recorder was SO out of tune when we first checked out the tuning (was about 1/2 semitone flat), and there’s no real way of tuning a recorder that much. Laura’s cello was also quite out (perhaps because of the bus?). At least Amelia’s flute was basically fine. And there was no harpsichord (well, I knew then already). There wasn’t a chance of winning anyway, so we just went and played for fun (George paged turned better than last round this time).
Adjudication time came – the adjudicator said “Let’s go in reverse and start from the last” and Trio+1 was the first group to play… So he went through the groups one by one, and somehow missed out trio+1, and started saying the performance ratings of the other groups, before the other adjudicator told him that he hadn’t commented on trio+1 yet. Turns out – Trio+1 won!! That was quite a shock to us. He was apparently moving out adjudication sheet to the bottom of the pile and forgot about it totally. So yes, shock. He mentioned the lack of the harpsichord but said that the playing on the piano was ‘as sensitive’ as it could be, the excellent interplay between the recorder+flute, and the excellent collaboration between the piano+cello, or something like that. So we got the cup, an outstanding certificate and the winners certificate…
After that was brass group (Folk-Song Fanfare, Trumpet Voluntary, some brass jazz movement). The cello club which played before us wasn’t that great… and I think we played decently. The moment that class ended, Mr. Hughes was at the door of the hall, apparently I was supposed to be in Piano Trio class. Grabbed my score and made my way to the Brunswick Room, where everyone was waiting for me (already tuned and seated). Quickly gathered my thoughts and started to play. The piano was HORRENDOUS. The touch of the bottom half of the piano was totally different from the upper half, the sound was totally different on opposite ends of the piano, the pedal was undescribable (well, almost) – the moment your foot touches it it kind of ‘sinks’ right down to the bottom on full pedal.
However, Piano Trio won! So that was good, got another cup.
Since I didn’t have time for the brass group adjudication, I didn’t hear the results myself, but apparently the adjudicator had good things to say about us and nothing much good to say about the cello club, yet he gave the cup to them! That was a bit irritating, we think he gave it to them because they were younger and to give them some confidence, yet that defeated the purpose of it being a competitive festival. Oh well.
So in a sense I won all of my saturday classes, even though we only got 2 cups.
And for the hour drive back to school… rest, and national chamber music competition the next day (mentioned in my previous post)
So that was saturday. Next would be wednesday March 22nd.
Wednesday came pretty fast after the busy weekend of music. I would be playing in 3 classes –
1 – Piano Solo by Classical Composer, time limit 6 mins.
2 – 20 minute recital
3 – Piano Concerto – one movement.
My first class was pretty early in the morning, so I had to leave (separately from the others going on the same day) at 7.30am with Mr. Barker. We were a bit behind schedule, and being with a teacher who’s late, who’s driving a sports car, and gets stuck behind lorries is not the most boring thing. Certainly something I’d avoid on a good day.
At first I was worried that his speedometer was in miles per hour, luckily it was in kilometres/hour. We were basically going at 120km/h on a small one lane road, and going up to 140km/h to overtake lorries. Slower than Mr. Hughes, but this was a small lane! Perhaps that’s why I decided to take the school minibus on the way back?
Anyway, we got stuck behind lorries 4 times, so that was not that fun. And roads in UK tend to be one lane most of the time.
At least we managed to reach Bath on time, and soon I had to play in my first class – Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A minor, 1st movement. It didn’t go THAT well, considering that it was the first thing I was playing that day, without any warm up at all (hands were cold as well). The piano was HORRIBLY bright, and the soft pedal didn’t work at all. Oh well.
It was immediately down to the Brunswick room straight after for my 20 minute recital, and read above for my description of the piano (This was the piano I played the piano trio on on saturday). All I can say is that it did not go well. In fact a couple of days earlier we were considering withdrawing me from the class because I wasn’t prepared sufficiently. However I thought, so what if it doesn’t go well, it’s just for fun. And yes, well, it didn’t go well.
My programme was JS Bach Partita 1 – Prelude, Allemande, Sarabande, Gigue; Beethoven Piano Sonata Op.2 No.2 in A, 1st movement; Debussy’s Prelude X, Book I (also known as the sunken cathedral).
My first 2 notes did not sound at all, but that wasn’t too bad (The adjudicator knew the state of the piano). I made up a few things here and there as I went along. The beethoven – I hardly remembered how the piece went, and on two of the runs, could not remember what notes they started on and the fingering. I just simply pressed down some keys and went on. The Debussy was not too bad, thankfully.
The adjudicator mentioned later about my ‘note approximations’ three times, which I guess was a nice way of saying “I got many notes wrong”. Didn’t win anything (obviously).
Granted, I had effectively two weeks to prepare almost the entire recital – the most rushed preparation I’ve ever had for a solo recital.
I missed the adjudication for my first class, I still don’t know how I did in it. This was around 12pm anyway.
Met up with Laura and Amelia after that (they won their class, congrats!) and waited for the rest to finish (they were in a different building). Ate packed lunches, and waited for the next class. (The rest would be going back after Laura’s next class at 2pm, while I still had my concerto class).
While the rest went to watch Laura’s class, I went into the banqueting hall for the concerto class. When they called my name, Mr. Barker still wasn’t around (he was accompanying Laura) so I had to tell them that my accompanist wasn’t around! At least he only took about 5 minutes, after which I was immediately on with Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor Op16, 1st movement.
The piano’s soft pedal didn’t work (as mentioned above). But it was a decent performance, other than starting one section in the wrong key, oops.
If I’m correct, I think I was up against 7 pianists from Wells Cathedral School, and I was the only non-Wells person competing in that class. I’m not sure, but I think that was the case. One of the competitors was also in the keyboard finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
Obviously, I didn’t win. But guess what? I came in 3rd! That was quite a suprise to me… and I’m quite happy about that. Of course, I try not to mention that I came 3rd, tied with 2 others. But I did get some decent comments from the adjudicator.
So that was the end of my participation in MidSomerset.
After that Mr. Barker took me to a cafe, had some hot chocolate, and after that it was off to one of the nearby churches where Mr. Barker had to accompany Frances Feng on her cello… I turned pages for him on a really lousy piano.
And it was finally back to school after that.
And so ends the Mid-Somerset Festival ’06, my last time competing in it. Edit, mistake, not the end yet.
Well done to Laura Hammonds, who won all of her 4 classes (And Katy as well, although she only did one class, heh)
Oh yes, I said not the end yet, because now I have to go up to Bath tomorrow again to play Piano Trio in the Gala concert. Bit of a suprise, actually. Shall write more on that later.