The Music Society Chilingirian Violin Masterclass

21 November 2018

Tonight’s violin masterclass given by Levon Chilingirian gave six of our senior violinists the chance to have a public lesson in front of an audience with a world-class violinist. We were so fortunate to have Levon Chilingirian with us. He is now a firm friend of the school and returns every year, either to take the Strings Masterclass or to bring his celebrated quartet to give us a concert, preceded by some chamber music coaching.

A very experienced and much admired teacher, Levon has taught at all the country’s leading music conservatoires, formerly at the Royal College of Music and now the Royal Academy, the Guildhall and the Royal Northern College of Music. His work with the Chilingirian Quartet takes him to Venezuela where he directs the chamber music programme of the famous El Sistema project.

A very well-attended masterclass allowed many of our string pupils to hear the wisdom of our maestro - his relaxed warmth, empathy and gentle sense of humour allowed him come across as a most sympathetic teacher. We heard about the importance of posture and how it affects the sound, how to hold the bow and how to produce different kinds of vibrato with minimal effort. We had insights into how to practise more efficiently, how to use harmonics judiciously, how to conserve the bow and when to use a slide in the best possible taste. It was fascinating to see how all the performances developed in front of our eyes.

Of course, much of what Mr Chilingirian had to say was simply reinforcing what these pupils hear from their teacher on a daily basis. 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, since it was Mariette who accompanied them at the piano.

The pupils included Ollie Breach (Elgar’s Sonata), Elvis Hung (Viotti’s Concerto in G) and Alvin Tam (Debussy’s Sonata). After the interval we heard Alexander Glover (Bruch’s Concerto in G minor), Andreas Lo (Bach’s Sonata in E major) and Ashwin Tennant (Grieg’s Sonata).

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. All felt inspired to keep working and to consult performances by the greatest role models – Heifetz, Oistrakh, Vengerov and others, which are all so easy to hear and see online. Our thanks to all the performers, to Mrs Pringle for her teaching and accompanying, to the Music Society who funded this fabulous evening of music making, teaching and learning – and of course to our friend and maestro, Levon Chilingirian.

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