Former Purcellian George Harliono-Evans, age 11, has had a busy summer which included several recitals and distinction in his ABRSM diploma exam. A review of his concert for the Chatteris Music Society commented on his 'phenomenal technique', and confident assurance at the piano.
Meanwhile, another ex-Purcellian Alexander Ullman (2002-2009), now at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, has recently added to his impressive list of international competition success with the overall first prize at the 2012 Tunbridge Wells International Concert Artists Competition.
From The Watford Observer
A Bushey schoolgirl is reaching for the stars, after making the regional final of a singing competition.
Mackenzie Kavanagh, of Merry Hill Road, took to the stage of Watford club Highlight on Sunday, September 2, to perform in contest Open Mic UK. The competition is aimed at finding the UK’s best singers, songwriters, rappers and vocalists of all genres who can perform either covers or original songs.
Mackenzie, an accomplished musician, said she was unfazed as she sang and played piano to the crowd of about 100. Performing her own original material, the 13-year-old was selected by a panel of industry judges to go through to the regional finals of the competition.
Mackenzie, a student at the Purcell School of Music in Bushey for the past four years, said: "I was bit nervous to start with, but as soon as I got up on stage I felt fine.
"I’ve been writing my own songs since the age of 11. I sit at the piano, come up with a composition and then the words just come. I don’t focus on anything in particular, my songs cover everything. It just depends on what I’m thinking about or feeling at the time."
Citing Paloma Faith, Divine Comedy, La Roux, Kate Bush and Eliza Doolittle as influences, Mackenzie said her dream is to be famous for writing and performing her own music.
She said: "I love songwriting, but I wouldn’t want anyone else performing my songs, they’re personal to me. I’m hoping to do really well in this competition, my main ambition is to be a music star. If I don’t make it through I wouldn’t want to apply for competitions like X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, simply because, all the performers end up singing other people’s songs. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just not for me."
This is not the first time Mackenzie has played in front of a large crowd. In May last year she was one of 100 promising young musicians to play piano in the Royal Albert Hall with pianist Lang Lang.
The pianist, songwriter and singer is also a gifted cellist and clarinettist – reaching Grade 8 distinction in the woodwind instrument in just two years.
On Sunday, October 28, Mackenzie will go head-to-head with other regional finalists at Highlight and she is encouraging residents to come and support her.
She said: "If I make it through the regional final, I could go on to the national grand final, with the chance to perform at the 02, which would be amazing. So please, come along and help a local girl’s dreams of musical stardom come true."
For tickets to the regional final, visit http://www.openmicuk.co.uk or Mackenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hear Mackenzie's music, visit: www.mackenzie-music.com.
Reporting by Amie Mulderrig
Mackenzie's song 'Rainbow' was announced as runner up in the Song Academy national songwriting competition in the ‘18 and under’ category in May. It also features another Purcellian, Jo Jo Shim, playing the viola.
The Purcell School welcomed a new Headmaster at the beginning of term.
David Thomas took over last week as head of the prestigious Purcell School. The school is the oldest specialist music school in the UK, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and can boast many former pupils who are now famous musicians.
Mr Thomas said, “I am delighted to be taking over the Purcell School at this time, and leading it into its second half-century. I have been made to feel very welcome at the school, and am looking forward to helping it to develop in the years ahead.”
Mr Thomas comes to The Purcell after 11 years as Head of Reigate Grammar School, an independent school of 1200 pupils in Surrey. He was educated at Oxford University and has taught at several well-known independent schools across the UK.
Highlights during the coming term will include concerts at the Wigmore Hall in London, and a matinée concert at the Watford Colosseum on Sunday 4th November at 3.00pm, with a programme which will include Bizet's Carmen Suite and Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. Tickets are available from the Watford Colosseum (0845 0753993).