Thirteen is often considered an unlucky number but for thirteen Gallions pupils Tuesday 29th September was a very lucky day, as they were invited to a piano recital at Clifford Chance. The Clifford Chance Music Club has been going since 2007, aiming to enrich employees’ working week with music. The Music Club very kindly invited a small number of students from seven local schools, of which Gallions was one of only two primary schools.
The concert was given by the current BBC Young Musician of the Year, Martin James Bartlett. In 2014 he won the coveted title aged only seventeen with a performance of Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini at the final. He is now an undergraduate at the world renowned Royal College of Music in London and performed with Eric Whitacre and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, at the BBC Proms this summer.
We left school at 11am and took the DLR to Canary Wharf where we walked amid the tall buildings to Clifford Chance, a world leading law firm. After a light lunch (in front of a large rugby world cup wall display), we took our seats for the concert which were the best seats in the auditorium giving the children a brilliant view of the pianist.
The programme consisted of three major composers; first we heard a piano sonata in E flat (Opus 31 No. 3) by Beethoven, followed by two pieces from Gershwin’s songbook and a transcription of a Gershwin piece by a phenomenal twentieth-century pianist Earl Wild, and the concert finished with an emphatic Prokofiev Sonata. Although the children had heard of the composers before, all of the music was new to them.
It was wonderful to see a concert given by someone so young to inspire the children. We were lucky enough to be invited to stay for a question and answer session with the pianist himself, in which our pupils did Gallions proud with insightful and intelligent questions. For example, who was your inspiration to play the piano, who is your favourite composer to play, and who are your favourite pianists? They were amazed that he prepared all the music for this concert in only three weeks and that he often practices for seven to eight hours a day.
After the concert we talked about our favourite pieces. The Prokofiev Sonata was the consensus, although the Gershwin songs were also very popular. We were all blown away by the level of energy and emotion in Martin’s performance and hopefully it has inspired our young musicians.