It has been seven years since we started giving recitals at Soirees at Breinton! I remember every musician we have invited; each musician has brought their best programme and given us treasurable moments. Last Saturday, we celebrated the 40th recital with our special guests, cellist Laura van den Heijden and pianist Alison Rhind. It was originally going to be an Evening of Bach which turned into a unique Evening of Concertos. We cannot thank Laura and Alison enough for stepping in at the last moment after the unexpected cancellation. 

Musicians are human beings, so of course cancellations do happen from time to time. However, every music society and concert venue hopes it won’t ever happen to them!  I spoke with one of my contacts who works at a music agency about this topic and explained the situation we were in. She said very sympathetically, “Yes, unfortunately we cannot avoid them, and when they do happen we drop everything to deal with it”.  When it happened to us this time, (actually, the second time in a row!), it took a lot of phone calls, emails, Facebook messages etc. back and forth, with various musicians and agents to resolve. Then we needed to deal with refunds to the audiences who understandably decided not to attend after the change of musicians and programme.  However, there were wonderfully positive things that came out of it too. Particularly I was immensely touched by many kind-hearted and supportive musicians (and dare I say the names of the wonderful cellists – Guy Johnston and Philip Higham who both tried to help us). 

As many people know, Laura was the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2012. It feels that she has been performing for a long time, but she is still a teenager waiting to start her studies at Cambridge University next September. Since winning the Young Musician’s title, she has been busy with a constant flow of solo and concerto engagements with orchestras. I was very impressed to hear that she has been appointed the first Young Artist in Residence with the London Mozart Players. My colleagues from music societies and festivals speak highly of her. Four and half years later, her Walton Concerto, with which she won the Young Musician’s title, was still going strong. Her knowledge and understanding of this concerto, her decisiveness to go for the momentum, and her expressive musicality contributed to establish a connection between the music, herself and audience. It was not difficult to notice that she had this instinctive quality that could not help people liking her. And what a pianist Alison Rhind was! Her ability to create such beautiful orchestral effects with a single instrument was amazing. The pondering introduction to Walton Concerto was superb. In Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, it was as if imagining we were listening to the woodwind instruments that were interacting with the soloist. We wish Laura all the best with the forthcoming concerto engagements!


  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:  Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33
  • Robert Schumann:  Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129 
  • William Walton:  Cello Concerto 

Laura van der Heijden

Winner of the BBC Young Musician Competition in 2012, cellist Laura van der Heijden has already made a name for herself as a very special emerging talent. Born in England in 1997 as the youngest daughter of a Dutch father and a Swiss mother, Laura’s musical studies started on recorder at the age of four. After learning with Marina Logie on cello, Laura had gained ABRSM grade 8 distinctions on both cello and piano by the age of ten.

Laura's first public performance as a cellist was at the age of 9 with the Jupiter Chamber Orchestra. From 2005 to 2014 Laura was a student at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, where she learned piano with Emily Jeffrey and participated in many ensembles. Since 2008 Laura has been a student of the renowned British-Russian cellist Leonid Gorokhov. Additionally, she is participating in masterclasses with David Geringas, Ralph Kirshbaum and Miklós Perényi.

Alison Rhind

Alison Rhind is recognised as one of the leading collaborative pianists specialising in the repertoire for piano and strings. Her ability to accompany was recognised and nurtured at an early age whilst still at Chetham’s School of Music and she became increasingly in demand throughout her time at Oxford University where she read Music at Wadham College. Chetham’s invited her back immediately she had finished her degree but she completed her studies with Edith Vogel at the Guildhall School of Music before returning there.

In 1994, she moved to the Yehudi Menuhin School where she worked for twelve years. She toured Israel and Germany with the students and was invited to accompany at the prestigious Kronberg Akademie after her recitals there with the school.