20 November 2019

Tonight’s cello masterclass, given by Robert Max, gave four senior solo cellists and 15 chamber cellists the chance to have a public lesson in front of an audience with a world-class cellist. We were so fortunate to have Robert Max with us. Robert, a former pupil of Director of Music, Michael Stinton, from his time at St Paul’s School, is a distinguished cellist, chamber musician, educator and conductor of several orchestras including the Oxford Symphony Orchestra, many of whose members were represented tonight in the audience.

Robert is cellist of the Barbican Trio, principal cellist of the London Chamber orchestra and conductor of the North London Symphony Orchestra. He has performed cello concertos with many leading orchestras, including the BBC Concert Orchestra and the London Mozart Players and he holds distinguished positions in music academies and festivals and has founded his own chamber course, Music Works.

A very well-attended masterclass allowed many of our cellists to experience the outstanding teaching of our guest – his warm support of our cellists allowed him come across as a most sympathetic and gifted teacher. Each cellist was asked to talk about decisions they had made and what they understood from the scores about the composers’ intentions. It was fascinating to see how all the performances developed in front of our eyes.

We were reminded of the outstanding work that is undertaken at the school by our cello teacher, Valerie Findlay – and we were privileged to hear the outstanding accompaniment offered by our accompanist this evening, Head of Piano, Lynette Stulting, who had clearly been practising some very demanding repertoire in order to give the boys every possible support.

As well as four solo performances we heard two ensembles, the first a junior quintet of Sammy Jarvis, Reuben McLusky, Thomas Wilson, Robert Smith and Cameron Eilbeck in a very attractive arrangement of The Bear Necessities from The Jungle Book. Starting the second half we enjoyed Robert Max’s own arrangement for ten cellos, two double basses and timpani of Davidoff’s Hymn and it was fascinating to see him working on both ensembles with the boys.

The solo cellists included Aidan Chan (Fauré’s Elégie), Joe Bradley (Shostakovich’s Sonata), Jeroan Yip (Elgar’s Concerto) and, finally, Oliver Simpson in Dvorak’s wonderful and challenging Cello Concerto, a work he is about to play with an orchestra in Cambridge.

It was also wonderful to see so many of our pupils attending, many with their parents – and everyone learned much from the masterclass, whether observing or participating.

At the end we thanked all the performers – Miss Stulting for her accompanying, Mrs Findlay for her teaching, our Music Society for funding this fabulous evening of music making, teaching and learning – and of course to our teaching master, Robert Max.

More News