This year’s Local Young Performers Soiree took place in the most upbeat and uplifting atmosphere on a rainy, cold, miserable but typical January evening. The four performers invited this year were full of enthusiasm and eagerness to play their instruments and were received by the equally keen audience. This was our fourth year of this annual event; the concept of supporting school-age performers and providing them with an excellent opportunity to perform to a welcoming crowd seems to have established well with Breinton concert lovers.

First off, 15-year-old pianist Harvey Lin. He has enviable dexterity and superb precision; his execution of the highly challenging pieces of Debussy, Liszt, Chopin and Kapustin was extremely sincere to the music. His articulation was admirable, particularly contrasting edgy and angular from rounded sounds, displaying subtle nuances, and grasping the characters of each piece. He was incredibly focused, keeping his cool and never rushed, making his performance assuring and reliable. I had an absolute ball with the Finale of Kapustin’s Etudes.

Violinist Amber Emson’s strength was noticeable right from the beginning. The Brahms D-minor Sonata, which is very dear to me, was performed with the most beautiful and thoughtful tone – the most important quality I seek for in any violinist. The second movement Adagio’s lyrical melody in the mid-lower register gave a moment of nostalgic calmness. The rapturous fourth movement was performed with well projected sounds. I was amazed to hear that Amber had started to learn this Sonata only a month ago!

Introducing a new and unique instrument is always a risky business, but double bassist Will Duerden could not have done a better job. Seemingly a shy 17-year-old, he rose to the occasion, capturing the audience’s attention and never letting them go, showing the strong traits of a real performer. We heard some powerful chords that came straight at us and funky melodies that carried an exotic ambiance in Frank Proto’s Carmen Fantasy; the emotion was full-blown in the JC Bach Viola Concerto; and what an infectiously playful climax Bottesini’s Fantasia was.

Cellist Sophie Kauer took on the challenge of being the last player of the evening. A natural performer, she shaped her musical world with technical mastery, stylish expressions and wit. Frank Bridge’s Mélodie was a real chamber piece, the inextricable cello and piano parts beautifully expanded and expressed. March-like Kabalevsky’s Cello Concert was powerful, and Bach’s solo Sarabande was calm and crystal pure, making a beautiful contrast. The stunning show-case Hungarian Rhapsody was a winner in every aspect, bringing a very merry close to the evening.

Pianist Alison Rhind was an indispensable part of the evening. She played with such grace and care, magically putting all the instruments feel completely at ease with her. Her expertise was highly appreciated by all of us.

We were delighted to welcome His Worship, the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Graham Cundy and his wife to the recital this year and he praised the musicians for their talent and performance at the end of evening, adding a few kind words for our initiative to arrange these recitals. We thank them for their support.

And, thanks to our dear trustee Steve, who masterfully completed the formidable task of page turning.