We were treated to two exceptional musical performances in the space of just one week. Upper Sixth Formers Elina Pampapathi and Maya Suen are both preparing for diplomas and wanted to perform the pieces they have been working so hard on to family, friends, teachers and other members of the Woldingham community.
Elina’s recital was introduced by her singing teacher, Mrs Victoria Milnes. This was at Mrs Milnes’ insistence, as she explained how difficult a programme Elina was about to sing: her voice would be moving up and down through two octaves; she would sing in four different languages and the amount of counting she would need to do – particularly in the contemporary pieces – would be no mean feat.
Accompanied by Mr Douglas Hewitt on piano and harpsichord, Elina exquisitely sang pieces by Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Debussy, Schubert, Richard Strauss, Samuel Barber and William Walton. It was hard to believe that she had only made the transition to classical singing a couple of years ago, having started singing lessons with Mrs Milnes, age 11, determined that classical music wasn’t for her.
Afterwards, Elina took the opportunity to thank those who had helped her along this fantastic musical journey, including Director of Music, Mr John Hargreaves, her family, with a particular ‘shout out’ to her mum from whom her musical inspiration had come, Mr Hewitt and Mrs Milnes, who she described as ‘teacher, mentor and friend’.
Mr Hargreave’s introduction to the second recital consisted of just two words, ‘Maya Suen’, who then took to the stage to play, brilliantly, the first of two sonatas, Beethoven’s Appassionata. Maya told the audience afterwards that this was a piece that Beethoven wrote after the deterioration of his hearing and that she felt – and hoped we had – a sense of defiance towards society in the music. She then introduced the second piece she was about to play, Chopin’s Sonata No.2 in B Flat Minor, which she described as ‘one of the scariest scores’ she had ever seen, although it soon become clear that she had long since overcome those fears.
Once she could make herself heard over the applause at the end of the recital, Maya expressed her honour at being able to play two pieces that were so close to her heart to those who had supported her. She also took the opportunity to thank, among others, her mum who, although she didn’t have the opportunity to learn music herself, had always enjoyed classic music and had been a great influence on Maya.