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Fresh talent take on classics
IIt is tempting to think ‘young’ equals ‘not very good’ when it comes to music. Usually, though, this is far from the case, and there are two concerts coming up this weekend to prove the point.
The Abingdon & District Musical Society’s concert features 17-year-old local cellist Indira Grier, winner of last year’s Concerto Competition at Abingdon Music Festival. Indira won playing Lalo’s Cello Concerto, but this time will be tackling the much more challenging Dvorak concerto.
“It’s the biggest concerto in the cello repertoire, and it’s very, very difficult,” she says. “You need a lot of stamina to do it, because it’s about 50 minutes. It’s an enormous challenge, but I’ve really enjoyed learning it. “I have a recording of Jacqueline du Pré playing it, which I’ve been listening to since I was about four or five, and I’ve always loved it so much, so I’m very glad to have the chance to perform it with an orchestra.”
Indira is no stranger to winning competitions. She has won the Junior Guilhermina Suggia Gift, a national competition run by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, twice, as well as Brent Young Musician of the Year in 2010, and in 2012 won second prize at the Bromsgrove International Young Musicians Platform, where she was the youngest competitor. She has also won both Junior and Senior Lower Strings competitions at the Royal Academy, where she has been studying since the age of eight.
Winning in Abingdon might seem less impressive in comparison, but Indira was thrilled. “It was great. The atmosphere was quite friendly so it wasn’t too nerve-wracking, and I was very happy to have won it.”
On Saturday she plays in Abingdon under the baton of Alexander Walker, whose list of credits includes the Royal Opera at Covent Garden. The programme also includes Weber’s Overture der Freischutz and Mahler’s First Symphony.
Meanwhile, over at Milton-under-Wychwood, the Wells Cathedral School Orchestra will be making a welcome return, two years after playing to a capacity audience and earning a standing ovation. One of the country’s most prestigious music schools, Wells Cathedral School prepares youngsters for music college and a professional career. “Most of our students go on to become professional musicians,” says head of strings Matthew Souter, who will be conducting. “Many become soloists, and many become chamber musicians. The orchestra’s very international — people are attracted to the school from all over the world.”
Saturday’s programme includes Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons — with each movement featuring a different soloist, their ages ranging from 13 to 17 — as well as Bach’s Air on a G String, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Bartok’s Romanian Dances and Britten’s Simple Symphony.
“We had a packed hall last time — they had to turn people away because there weren’t enough seats,” says Matthew. “We got a fabulous reception and we had a great time there, so of course we’re all looking forward to coming back enormously.”
Abingdon & District Musical Society St Helen’s Church, Abingdon Saturday, 7.30pm Visit adms.org.uk Wells Cathedral School Orchestra Milton-under-Wychwood Church Saturday, 7.30pm Call 01993 830553