I was very proud to have recently taken part in a master class with the great pianist, Melvyn Tan. Melvyn Tan has built an international reputation through his exceptional musicality and promotion of the fortepiano, the predecessor of the modern day piano. The master class was hosted by Wiltshire Music Centre, one of the best music venues in the UK, with a 300-seat concert hall that has excellent acoustics. In addition to a busy program that features numerous internationally acclaimed artists, the centre also holds regular activities for local education and development, including workshops, choral singing sessions and music therapy groups.
The challenge for participants in the master class was to prepare a piece from Variations for Judith. This is a wonderful collection of short pieces from a variety of modern composers. It was commissioned as a leaving present for Judith Serota, who was Executive Director of the Spitalfields Festival in east London until late 2007. All of the composers featured had either worked with Judith or had a connection to the Festival over the years.
The chosen pieces were Ist Bach bei mir by Jonathan Dove, Little Elegy by Richard Rodney Bennett and my chosen piece, Diomedes by Tarik O’Regan. Naturally I was a little nervous at first, but from the minute Melvyn starts working with you on various elements in the music, all the nerves dissipate. He proved to be an excellent teacher and master class leader, giving encouragement and direction in a very personable way. At the end of the guidance section, Melvyn offered us all the chance to play the piece again, incorporating the points he had given us. For my part, the result was very illuminating; my chosen piece now had a lot more musical depth than I thought was possible.
The following evening, Melvyn went on to perform an exquisite program of music from Chopin, Liszt, Field, Bach, and of course selections from Variations for Judith. It was a joy to see him perform this challenging repertoire with such expressiveness and musicality. I look forward to seeing him perform again in future and would heartily recommend you to grab a ticket if the opportunity arises.
Variations of Judith can be purchased from most online retailers and music shops, and each book sold makes a contribution to Dimbleby Cancer Care.