26 September 2018

Tonight, we were privileged to unveil our new Steinway piano in a special concert with an array of fine pianists from across the Abingdon Foundation. They included several of our visiting music staff, as well as our top pianists at both the Senior and Prep School.

Formerly the instrument of choice for many of the world’s most famous pianists at London’s South Bank Centre  – and chosen for the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room in 2004 by none other than Japanese pianist, Mitsuko Uchida – the instrument was played in a range of music for four hands, six hands, as an accompanying instrument and in Jazz. The number of pianists in each piece was able to demonstrate the full orchestral range of tone of this fine instrument, which had been specially voiced for us by the SBC’s top technician, Peter Salisbury, to make it sound in our acoustic just like it did in the QEH.

The School had been able to acquire this fine model D Steinway as part of the School’s 2018 Piano Project, which has seen the re-equipping of the Music School with both instruments and new spaces. These include two matching Yamaha C2X pianos in a dedicated room for the Head of Piano, a new room for our Head of Strings, an ensemble space and two new practice rooms for singing and for cello and double bass.

First, we heard music staff, Lynette Stulting and Joy Walker in Mozart’s Sonata for four hands in D, K381, this soon to be followed by young pianists Leo Ghaw and Daniel Zhang In Schubert’s Marche Militaire Op 51 no 1. In the first of two performances for six hands we then heard Didier Delgorge, Harris Ma and Jason Ng in Rachmaninov’s Mélodie.

Music teachers, Maddy Aldis Evans (oboe) and Charlotte Brennand (piano) serenaded us next with the intimate slow movement from Howell’s Oboe Sonata and David Bicarregui and Joe Bradley played a finely judged performance of Debussy’s En Bateau for four hands.

We were then back to six hands with Oliver Breach, Ashwin Tennant and Alvin Tam with Cornick’s Three Pieces for Six Hands, creating a suitably jazzy feel before we heard Lynette Stulting and Magdalena Nasidlak in Schubert’s exquisite Fantasie in F minor.

Finally, the mood was lightened by a Jazz Trio of Martin Pickett (piano), Mike Wilkins (tenor saxophone) and Headmaster, Mike Windsor, in that jazz classic, Porter’s Night and Day.

What a fantastic concert and a great celebration of this new chapter in Abingdon’s music! Our thanks to all the boys and staff for 60 minutes of outstanding music-making – and to the senior staff, the Director of Finance and Operations and our governors for making this possible.

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