Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Mitsuko Uchida

One of my favourite performers is the Japanese pianist, Mitsuko Uchida. I like the way she performs and I was lucky enough to see her in Birmingham in 2010. After the concert I queued up to meet her. I was very nervous and maybe she thought I was crazy as I couldn't think of much to say.

Mitsuko Uchida was awarded a CBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2001 and in 2009 she was made a Dame by the Queen.

The way she performs is very beautiful when you watch her, I like the way she moves her body. Also she is traditional about the way she performs, if anyone in the audience makes a noise she can get upset with them and tell them to leave! Wow, I am pleased I didn't sneeze when I was watching... I am trying to be as good a player as her one day.

This is a very interesting interview where she talks about playing different composers.

This is Mitsuko Uchida playing Chopin Etude Op.10 No.2, I think in 1970.

St. Johns College, Cambridge

Last week I went to a concert at The Divinity School Theatre at St. Johns College in Cambridge. After the concert I met the Director of Music Studies, Professor John Rink. He has just bought a new Steinway for the college and I was lucky enough to have a quick play on it. It is a really beautiful instrument and the touch is perfect. I will be performing at the college using the Steinway in March next year so I am looking forward to playing it again.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Heart 103

On Saturday I went to the Grand Arcade in Cambridge to audition for a Christmas event. If they like the way I play I might get to perform before the Christmas lights are turned on, that will be on Sunday 18th November. That will be great fun. I played La Campanella and also a Christmassy piece called The Snowman. It was fun to play in front of the judges, kind of like the X-Factor.

Today a lady from Heart FM called my mum and said that they thought my playing was good enough and they would like me to perform on Sunday. Cool...

Here are some photos of me auditioning...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Saffron Walden Music Festival

Yesterday I took part in The Saffron Walden Music Festival. I played La Campanella and won the section that I was competing in. It was a great music festival, with a lot of very good musicians. This is a brand new music festival and it is held at The Saffron Walden County High School.

This afternoon the organisers called me to let me know that I had won the whole of the piano section and asked if I could go back at 4pm to play again to compete for the prize of overall winner of the competition. So I played again and I won. Wow, that is really cool, I get to keep a huge cup and my name will be the first on the base.

Here is a photo of me with John York who was the adjudicator at the festival.

I hope I can compete at the festival again next year.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Young Pianist of the North

There is a piano competition called Young Pianist of the North. It is held every year from 28th November to 1st December in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This year I am going to enter the competition for the first time.

Here is a link to the competitions website.

I will be competing in the main category for pianists aged between 11 and 18 years old. Last year I think the first prize was shared by Leonardo Colafelice from Italy and Jung Eun Kim from Korea. I couldn't find anything about Jung Eun Kim but this is a link to the YouTube site belonging to Leonardo Colafelice. I watched some of the videos and I hope that one day I can be as good as he is.

This is Leonardo Colafelice performing Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3 Op.30.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

LangLang Documentary

There is a documentary about LangLang on BBC One on Monday 12th November at 10.35pm. He is one of my favourite pianists. I know a lot of people say he is too theatrical and not pure about the way he plays, but I like his style. I think that people probably said things like that about Liszt when he was alive too.

The documentary is about his life from when he was young and how he became well known. I think it will be very interesting to watch. Here is a link to the LangLang website so you can find out more about him.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Yum! More Noodles!

My new favourite noodles this week are Mi Goreng flavour instant noodles. They are from Indonesia. Mi Goreng is fried noodles in Indonesian, so these are noodle flavoured noodles... huh? They taste best with a little bit of Kecap Manis (which means sweet ketchup) and a fried egg on top.


I really like robots. I found some piano playing robots that are super cool. Here are my top five piano playing robots.

Number Five. A Taiwanese Robot
But its just hands really... robots should have arms and legs, and a head too.

Number Four. Wabot1
I like this robot, it looks really good. But I couldnt find a movie of Wabot actually playing the piano, so maybe it can't really play.

Number Three. Robot at the Shanghai Science Museum
This is like a robot from an old movie. Maybe it has a nice friendly voice.

Number Two. Robonova1
There is a great movie of Robonova1 playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Number One. Teotronica010
This is my favourite robot. He can play piano and move and smile at the same time.

Here is a movie of Teotronica010 playing Mozart 331.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Music Competition

This Saturday I will take part in a music competition in Saffron Walden. It is part of the Saffron Walden Music Festival and will be held at The County High School in Audley End Road, Saffron Walden.

I will compete in two different Piano sections, Class 7 Romantic and Class 8 Modern, so I hope it will go OK! I think this is the first year that there has been a festival like this in Saffron Walden so it is very exciting.

For the Romantic piece I am going to play La Campanella by Liszt and for the Modern piece I will play the third movement of Estampes, Jardins sous la pluie by Debussy. I practiced La Campanella tonight after school.

My sister is also going to take part in the competition. She is going to compete in Class 3 Piano (Grade 5-6) and Class 3 Strings (Grade 5-6). It is the third competition she has ever entered.

Here is an article about the festival from The Cambridge News.

John York is going to be judging the competition. He is a very well known composer and pianist.

Piano House in China

This Piano House is in An Hui province in China. The glass violin has an escalator inside it so that you can go up into the building. It was built as a kind of attraction and inside there is lots of information about the province and about how it will be developed and made better.

I think it would be better if someone actually lived here, maybe a crazy pianist?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Piano Lessons & A Party

This morning I was practicing some new pieces. I am trying to play Piano Sonata No. 21 by Beethoven which is also known as the Waldstein. So far I am working on the first part, the Allegro con brio, which is quite a difficult piece because the sforzando parts are very stretchy for my hands so it is easy to smudge them. Yesterday I had a lesson with my teacher, William Fong. He helped me with Waldstein and also a piece by Ravel called Alborada del Gracioso that I am learning. It is really nice when I can learn a new piece but frustrating sometimes when I can't do it right!!

This is Beethoven looking a bit scary, but still cool...

And this is a movie of Claudio Arrau performing The Waldstein in Bonn in 1977. I like this version a lot.

This afternoon my family went to our friends house in Coton which is a village just outside Cambridge. It was my friend Ekaterinas 12th birthday and we ate roast duck and a chocolate birthday cake. Then we played pingpong, my friend has a new table which folds up which is better than playing on the dining room table! Unfortunately I didn't win...

Friday, 2 November 2012

La Campanella

When I was in Cambridge last weekend someone made a video of me playing one of the pianos there. Now over 80,000 people have watched the video on YouTube. That is really amazing! Some newspapers called and asked to interview me and also I was interviewed on TV today. It's a lot of fun when people are interested in hearing me play.

I made this movie tonight so you can see the whole of Campanella, I hope its OK, there are a few mistakes because I only started this piece about a month ago.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Halloween Pumpkin

My brother Josh and I, made this spooooookeee halloween pumpkin...

The orange looks really cool in the photo.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Some Concerts Next Year

I have been working on some new pieces by Liszt and Ravel which are quite demanding and next year I have some concerts coming up so I hope I will be able to perform them.

These are the dates for the concerts:
March. (date tbc) St. Johns College, Cambridge.
4th April. 1pm. Lunchtime concert at St. Olafs Church, Islington.
4th July.  Lunchtime recital at Emanuel Church, Cambridge.
13th July. 7.30pm. Evening concert at the Hayward Theatre, Ely. 

I hope that people will come.

A Little Bit Of Beethoven

This is me playing the 3rd Movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. My face looks pretty weird when I play... On Saturday I met a guy called Paul who is a Buddhist. He said maybe I was re-incarnated from a composer or a pianist who had died... and its Halloween tonight!!!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Street Pianos in Cambridge

Today there are 15 pianos on the streets of Cambridge. I went and tried some of them out.

The first one I played was in Grand Arcade. The piano was a lovely old one, with some nice carvings on it. But the stool was too low for me (I am not so tall yet) so it was quite difficult to play. But there were lots of people watching so it was good fun.

The next piano I tried was outside in Kings Parade. It was soooo cold that my fingers didn't work very well, so I couldn't play for long.

Then I tried the one near Millers music shop. That was a good piano, and the sound was good too because it echoed from all of the buildings nearby.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

My First Review

Review of a piano recital by George Harliono presented by Chatteris Music Society at the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Chatteris, on Saturday 1st September 2012.

Chatteris Music Society, spearheaded by Katherine Childs, struck a winner when they asked 11-year-old George Harliono to give a piano recital in the village church today.  The audience knew it would be a grand occasion as the church was packed with enthusiasts.

One would expect a young lad of that age who started playing the piano at the age of 7 to play ‘nicely’ but not necessarily in the mature manner someone of twice his age would. However, this young performer was no ordinary player. He presented a full challenging programme that demonstrated an highly effective technique and there were many moments of mature musical awareness that is normally only associated with the best of performers.  

His opening item, Piano Sonata No 14 in c sharp minor (The Moonlight Sonata) by Beethoven, flowed beautifully in the first movement (Adagio Sostenuto), with many of the underlying melodic fragments clearly delineated.  He brought out the skittishness of Beethoven in the second movement (Allegretto) while his playing of the third movement (Presto Agitato) was at a magnificently energetic speed with much of Beethoven’s angst very much apparent. 

By way of contrast, George then showed an impressive ability for cohesion in Estampes by Debussy: In the first movement, Pagodes, he shaped the phrases beautifully creating unmistakable images of grand Japanese pagodas. In the second movement, La soirée dans Grenade, a constant reference to Spanish rhythm and melodic flavour combined with his varied touch contrasted  combined well with the typical flowing delicacy of Debussy and prominent resounding thematic material, while in the third, Jardin sous la pluie, the atmosphere was again created wonderfully as his technique made the music flow exquisitely, creating fluid, watery textures.

His brother, Joshua Harliono (violin) then gave a delightful performance on the violin of the first of Four Romantic Pieces by Dvorak (Allegro Moderato)  

After interval of tea and cakes, George played one of his favourite pieces, Rachmaninov’s Prelude no.12 in c sharp minor (op. 3 no2). There was no doubt that George has a phenomenal technique and this piece demonstrated this particularly well.

A mature approach and some particularly effective soft episodes in Schubert’s Four Impromptus D899 (Op. 90) ended the concert magnificently.  The first Impromptu in C minor (Allegro Molto Moderato) showed tremendous contrasting dynamic levels and in the second, E flat (Allegro) this amazingly talented pianist presented some astounding runs in the right hand. The third in G flat (Andante) brought out the mature musicianship of this young performer. The expression he created in the opening was spellbinding.  In the final, fourth Impromptu, in A flat (Allegretto) he managed some deliciously soft ripples in the right hand. He brought out the poignancy of contrasting episodes and swelling dynamics particularly well.

With an immediate stage presence, George confidently introduced the pieces, moved assuredly to sit at the grand piano and gave a recital of mammoth proportions for a performer of this age. It was perfectly understandable that he was given a standing ovation and there were people queuing for his autograph at the end. The demand for an encore was easily met and George gave a splendid performance of Glinka’s ‘The Lark’ to make this one of the most amazing performances I have seen recently.

Chatteris Music Society’s next event will be ‘An Evening of Music’ with Andrew Parnell (piano), Koren Parnell (clarinet) and Rebecca Duckworth (soprano) with music by Schubert, Gershwin, Finzi and Poulenc at Chatteris Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul tel: 01354 669104

Events next year include European Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (Youth Orchestra), Kings College Choral Scholars, Los Guitanos, and Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra (featuring a piano concerto).

For more information contact: 01354 693279

Rosemary Westwell

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Concert in Chatteris

Yesterday I performed a 90 minute recital at St. Peter and St. Pauls Church in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. I think it went quite well, except that I made a few little mistakes. But everyone seemed to like my playing so I think it was OK.

Here is the programme for the concert:

Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor, (Op.27 No.2), Beethoven
I.   Adagio Sostenuto 
II.  Allegretto
III. Presto Agitato

Estampes, Debussy
I.   Pagodes 
II.  La soirée dans Grenade
III. Jardin sous la pluie 

Guest Performer Joshua Harliono
Four Romantic Pieces, Dvorak
B flat major, Allegro Moderato


Rachmaninov. Prelude No.1 in C sharp minor, (Op.3 No.2)

Four Impromptus, D899 (Op.90), Schubert
I.   C minor, Allegro Molto Moderato 
II.  E flat, Allegro
III. G flat, Andante
IV. A flat, Allegretto

The church has really good acoustics and the people from the Chatteris Music Society are really friendly and very very organised. At the interval tea and cakes were served, it was a very traditional and lovely event. The piano I played had been donated to the church by a man who was watching me at the concert, so I am very grateful to him for that.

Next month Andrew Parnell will be performing at the church. He is a great composer and he has written many well known pieces including music for some of the Harry Potter movies. I think it is really worth going there to see a concert.

Here are some photos from the rehearsal. You can see me playing piano, my brother Josh is playing violin and Jem is doing wonders setting up the Mikes for the amplification:

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Lucerne School of Music

Last week I visited the Music Conservatoire which is part of the Lucerne School of Music. The school was started over sixty years ago and is right at the top of a very steep hill in Lucerne, Switzerland. The building that the school is in is very beautiful, with many paintings and great pianos. While I was there I tried out a few of the pianos, there were Steinways, Bosendorfers and Bechsteins... I liked the Steinways the best though.

Here are some photos of me playing inside the Conservatoire.

While I was there I met a lady called Nienke. She is studying Bass, I don't think I am quite tall enough to play that yet though. It was holiday time at the school and there weren't many students around, but I think it would be a great place to study one day.

If you would like to know more about Lucerne Music School follow this link.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Most Expensive Piano In The World... Ever!

I was wondering how much the most expensive piano in the world was and my brother Josh said it was probably a million pounds, like the one that John Lennon had owned. So I checked and here is a list of some of the most expensive pianos...

$400,000.00 Fazioli Brunei. The most expensive piano being made right now in the world is the Fazioli Brunei. It has a sequoia burr case which is decorated with flowers made of mother of pearl and semi-precious stones in many colours.  This piano retails at around $400,000.

$662,500.00 Marilyn Monroe's piano. In 2006 the singer Mariah Carey bought Marilyn Monroe's white baby grand piano. Mariah said she bought the piano because she could identify closely with Marilyn Monroe.

$1,200,000.00 Alma-Tadema Steinway. The Alma-Tadema was the 54,538th piano built  by Steinway & Sons. It was sold in 1997 at a Christie's auction for $1.2 million to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

$1,200,000.00 The Kuhn Bösendorfer Piano. Together with the Bösendorfer company, Jon Kuhn designed a piano decorated with 100,000 hand-cut diamonds.

$2,100,000.00 John Lennon's Steinway Model Z. This is the upright piano that John Lennon used when he wrote Imagine and many other Beatles songs. He bought it in 1970. In 2000 George Michael bought it and now lends it to museums so that people can see it.

$3,220,000.00 Heintzman Piano. A nine-foot piano made by Heintzman Piano in Beijing was purchased at auction by a private bidder for a record $3.22 million. It would be interesting to play this piano I think!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Some More Photos.

Here are some more photos by Mr Fahri Öz. These were taken in St. Mary's Church in Saffron Walden. Mr Peter De Vile is showing me the organ, he is a piano technician and knows everything about making pianos and organs sound great. It is huge and makes a great sound. It was first built in 1824 by John Vincent and cost £800, which was probably really expensive then. It was rebuilt in 1885 by T. C. Lewis. Since then it has been re-built several times and the second phase of the latest rebuild has been recently completed. It has five keyboard divisions, Solo, Swell, Great, Choir and Bombarde. The most dramatic feature is a strong fanfare trumpet en chamade - the Trompeta Real.