This year’s festival was of particular significance due to the attendance and a performance from Hilary Hahn, the internationally acclaimed violinist. Hilary Hahn made her first major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1990 at the age of eleven while studying with Jascha Brodsky at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. By 1995, Hahn was debuting internationally and by 1996 she had debuted at Carnegie Hall as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Hahn arrived at school to the giggles and whispers of our first study violinists whose excitement at having one of their idols in the building was almost palpable. The pupils rehearsed up until the last moment knowing that the performances would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hilary watched on graciously as each duo and ensemble performed. She then took to the stage herself to perform a Bach partita and a piece composed for her by Garcia-Abril. The room fell silent as the sound of her 19th century violin filled the hall. As part of her performance the pupils were asked to respond to the piece by creating sketches of what they had experienced during her playing. From minimalist patterns to full portraits of Hahn in performance the pupils seemed suitably inspired.
The event concluded with a prize giving where Alison Cox, The Purcell School’s Head of Composition and Outreach, gave medals to the ensembles and duos that showed the most progress. Hilary then spoke about the importance of outreach work for musicians. She expressed vividly how important music can be in bringing people together and how it is projects such as this one that prove that all music, including classical, is for everyone.