We were delighted to welcome Guy Johnston to give a masterclass at Purcell on Thursday last week. Guy is one of the most exciting and versatile British cellists of his generation. He won the BBC Young Musician of the Year title in 2000, and early on in his career had many successes, including the Guilhermina Suggia Gift, the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award and a Classical Brit Award at the Royal Albert Hall. He has gone on to have a busy and versatile career as an international soloist, chamber musician and guest principal, Guy is an inspiring leader of young musicians as a patron of several charities which promote music education with schoolchildren and young people including Music First and Future Talent. He is a Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music and a board member of the Pierre Fournier Award for young cellists.
Alim Beisembayev, 17, has been awarded first place in the inaugural Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition, winning the $10,000 cash prize and $2,000 scholarship.
Backed by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mei-Ann Chen, he gave a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat major that won over the judges. It is the same concerto that the late Van Cliburn played in Moscow to win the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition.
“It’s been really exciting for me to play this concerto because it’s such a big work and I really loved it,” Beisembayev said.
Beisembayev began learning the concerto in December. All but three of the pieces he played during the competition were brand new to him, said his piano teacher Tessa Nicholson.
“He’s a natural-born pianist. There are very few of the most difficult things that he finds difficult,” said Nicholson, a teacher at the Purcell School for Young Musicians. “Considering his parents aren’t musical, it’s just a God-given gift is all I can say.”
Cliburn gold medal winner Jon Nakamatsu, who was the Jury Chairman, said he “loved his sense of maturity, his concept of sound and of never rushing through things, especially during the earlier rounds.”
The competition started on 21 June with 23 preliminary competitors, representing 13 countries. The field was cut to 12 quarterfinalists on Monday night, then to six semifinalists on Wednesday, and the three finalists were chosen on Friday evening
Alim joined The Purcell School in 2010 and his place is supported by the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme.
Alim will be performing Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto with The Purcell School Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 29 February 2016.
The Purcell School’s IMPULSE Outreach Group travelled to Norfolk on Thursday 18th June and ran community projects in primary schools and concerts in local churches.
IMPULSE is The Purcell School’s unique, pupil-led outreach training programme. Those involved in this project, all from Year 12, were Matthew Higham and Georgia Peters (Pupil-Directors) Caitlin Heathcote, Olaya Garcia Alvarez, Millie Ashton, Rachael Hannigan and Emily Christian (Concert Managers), Isobel Sher, Tom Sparkes, Young Jun Lee and Hanna Mbuya (school workshop managers) plus William Fowler and Patriks Skabardis who helped to compose songs and djembe pieces for large group performances.
Read more about this trip on our Outreach page
Congratulations to violinist Juhee Yang, who has been awarded the School’s Arthur Felsenstein Leavers’ Award. This is an annual competition open to members of the Upper VI Form of The Purcell School who are proceeding to Music College or University (or equivalent) to read music. Designed to support or further the winner’s musical career, the award is a very generous monetary prize, presented to the winner once they commence their undergraduate music studies.
Juhee will continue her studies at the Royal College of Music next year.
This year the prize was adjudicated by renowned cellist, Robert Max.
Yesterday evening, our Debussy-inspired composition project, created by The Purcell School's Composer-in-Residence, Professor Robert Saxton, culminated in a fascinating concert.
Five talented young composers wrote pieces for flute and harp, inspired by Debussy’s wonderful Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp. Their pieces were performed by young professional artists Rachel Wick (harp), Tom Hancox (flute) and Jo-Eun Shim (viola and Purcell alumna). The recital ended with a performance of the source of inspiration – Debussy’s sonata.
Thirteen Purcell School pianists took part in the Royal Northern College of Music's Keyboard Festival, Dancing Fingers: A Portrait of Russian Music, on Sunday 21st June. Our pianists performed the complete Preludes Op. 32 by Rachmaninoff, which was extremely well received.
William Fong, Head of Keyboard said "We were very well looked after and it was a great pleasure for us to be invited back to play at this annual festival. All of our pianists played to a very high level. Bravo!"
Head of Music Technology, Aidan Goetzee, writes:
On Monday 15th June, 23 of our Music Technology students visited the Abbey Road Studios. They toured the legendary Studios 1 and 2 which were being set up for the next day’s recording sessions and watched as world-class recording engineers (including our own ex Music Technology Assistant George Oulton, now full-time at the studios) positioned some of the most expensive microphones in the world. Our guide for the evening was the in-house, and much sought after Audio Editor Simon Gibson, whose work can be heard on many award winning CDs. After demonstrating sound-transforming software editing techniques on rarely heard historic recordings of Heifetz, Klemperer and Karayan, he went on to amaze us with examples of his work on the latest film scores such as the epic seismic sound-track to San Andreas.
Students from The Purcell School performed a programme of chamber music classics to a large audience at London's iconic Wigmore Hall on Saturday morning. The music included movements from piano quintets by Elgar, Brahms & Medtner, Beethoven String Quartet Op. 59, Sexteto Mistico by Villa-Lobos, and Debussy Petite Suite transcribed for wind quintet by Graham Davies.
Alim Beisembayev (lower sixth), winner of the third prize in the 2014 International Franz Liszt Competition for Young Pianists in Weimar and pupil of Tessa Nicholson here at The Purcell School, is off to compete in the first ever Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Ahead of his departure for the competition, Alim played his recital to a full house in the Recital Room. His programme included works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Prokofiev and Ligeti. Alim’s progress at the competition can be followed on its website: http://www.cliburn.org/competitions/junior-competition/
After last week's marathon swim at Bushey Grove swimming pool as part of the Year 8 composition competition Max Labazzi got straight back into the water and competed in the 13-16 category at the 2015 Virgin Active Northwood Swimming Gala in several categories.
Max won Gold in the 50m Breast Stroke, a Silver in the 50m Butterfly, and 3 Bronze medals in the 100m Front Crawl, Individual 100m Medley and Bronze in the Team relay event.