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!