Piano is the instrument that most people would like to be able to play, according to recent general surveys. The versatility of a piano is so apparent in its multitude of roles, in solo performances, duets and trios, as an accompanying instrument for singers, choirs, jazz and rock bands, instrumental soloists, chamber groups, as a soloist with orchestra, or as an orchestral instrument. On a piano, it is possible to play ‘complete' music, melodies with harmonies, musical strands played with two hands, as well as two feet on the pedals.
The piano, with its 88 keys, covers the range of all the instruments in the orchestra and more, there are so many notes and so many combinations of them! Pianist Eric Morecambe's line in response to the complaints of a famous conductor, that he was playing all the wrong notes, says it all: 'I'm playing all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order!’. It is not surprising that learning the piano is a life-long journey.
Our pianists, (current numbers stand at just over 125), are so fortunate to commence their travels with their dedicated teachers, who help them crack the musical code with infinite patience, and make sense of lines of notation to enable them to navigate the keyboard, all in the supportive environment of Farleigh's Music School. Encouraged to perform regularly, the children quickly become old hands at taking to the stage as soloists, duettists, accompanists, or as band members.
The Farleigh Piano Festival is the annual showcase of solo and ensemble piano performance, now in its seventh year. From the earliest beginners, to children reaching an advanced level in their piano playing, and almost at the end of their Farleigh years, it is a wonderful opportunity for Farleigh pianists to have their moment in the spotlight. Participation is viewed almost as a rite of passage, and sets everyone a real goal to work towards.
This year’s festival was judged by Graham Scott, Head of Keyboard and Assistant Director of Music of Bryanston School, who was in for a long afternoon. However, once the first class of 47 children was underway, the audience was treated to a steady stream of impressive performances through the afternoon, delivered with energy, enthusiasm and professionalism.
The penultimate duet and trio class featured children from each year group and is always one of the most entertaining, displaying the ability of the players to listen hard to each other, to balance their parts, and to start and end together! The last class, which takes place in the evening, is always a spell-binding final act, with some truly outstanding playing from all those who have reached the dizzy heights of Class 7, and this year’s grand finale was no exception.
Huge thanks go to the team of tirelessly committed piano teachers, the parents who support their children at home, and the school teaching staff who help make sure the children make it to their lessons on time week in week out.
The biggest thanks go to the cohort of Farleigh pianists, who raise their game every year, and make the Farleigh Piano Festival one of the most exciting events in the school calendar.
Teresa Henderson, Music Administrator
9th March 2023