19 November 2020

This year’s violin masterclass, once again given by Levon Chilingirian, offered six of our senior violinists the opportunity for a public lesson in front of fellow players with a world-class violinist. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we couldn’t invite parents or teachers, but the event was being filmed and streamed and it is also available here. We are so grateful to Professor Chilingirian that he was willing to don a mask and visor for the event, something he’s also had to get used to at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also teaches.

We started with upper sixth musician, Dashiell Hathaway, who played the first movement of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor. Professor Chilingirian was immediately able to help with matters of style, interpretation and intonation. Tuning was also a subject that he tackled with our second violinist, fourth year music scholar, Boco To, both at the start when tuning his instrument and also during some double stopped diminished chords in the course of the first movement of Veracini’s Sonata in E minor.

Next, another fourth year violinist, Michael Cha, stepped forward to play Lalo’s highly virtuosic Symphonie Espagnol, 4th movement. Michael demonstrated many impressively secure technical aspects in this virtuosic piece, often finding a singing sound in the high upper register. Professor Chilingirian commented that Michael’s beautiful sound would be even further improved if he could hold his violin up and level – a transformative effect when he did it! Andreas Lo (Upper Sixth) played Mendelssohn’s D minor Violin Concerto, finale and benefited from lots of tips about how to play with a more relaxed posture and how to practise the faster passagework.

Nick Raptakis delighted us with the Canzonetta from Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Some teething troubles of intonation were soon resolved and Nick was able to sing out those sumptuous melodic lines with confidence. Finally, Ashwin Tennant chose Prokofiev’s demanding Violin Sonata No 1, first movement. “Terrific playing!” was Levon Chilingirian’s first reaction – before once again mentioning the tuning on the open G string.

Much of what Professor Chilingirian had to say was simply reinforcing what these pupils hear from their teacher at their lessons. But, of course, it is so helpful to hear it from someone else – and perhaps said in a different way. It was ideal for the pupils to have their teacher, Mrs Pringle, and Levon working in partnership: Mrs Pringle accompanied her pupils at the piano.

We offered our thanks to all the performers, to Mrs Pringle for her teaching and accompanying, to the Music Society for funding the evening – and of course to our friend and maestro, Levon Chilingirian, for his wonderful insights, advice and for his warm encouragement of our violinists.

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