The Inaugural Master Music Piano Festival

From Left to Right: Yvonne Behar, Gabriella Muradova, Ji Liu, Barnabas Jean-Barry Poggi, Lewis Grant, Doreen Tabor MBE and Benjamin Williams
From Left to Right: Yvonne Behar, Gabriella Muradova, Ji Liu, Barnabas Jean-Barry Poggi, Lewis Grant, Doreen Tabor MBE and Benjamin Williams

Written by Abbie Williams

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From June 8th-16th, Watford welcomed its first Master Music Piano festival at the Clarendon Muse. It hosted piano competitions with almost 40 talented participants from the local area, and concerts featuring two of our artists; visionary, chart-topping, Steinway artist Ji Liu, and charismatic international pianist Michael Harvey.

The festival began with a family friendly concert aimed for the enjoyment of children (see here for a dedicated guide). This concert featured Ji Liu, performing well-loved classics, including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolfand works by Beethoven, Schumann, and Debussy. This event had a large turnout with a wide spectrum of ages attending.

On June 15th, local teacher Michael Harvey presented a programme of his published compositions as well as works by Beethoven, Chopin and Ravel. He lived up to his billing as “a compelling musician”, capturing the attention of his listeners with his flair and charm. The performance finished with rapturous applause.

Michael Harvey Piano Recital June 15th 2019
Michael Harvey Piano Recital June 15th 2019

On June 16th Ji Liu returned to the stage for a performance of works by Beethoven, Debussy and Rachmaninov. The audience were delighted to hear his own composition Étude No. 1 for Solo Piano. Praised by Pianist Magazine and the Classical Source for being “sensitive and a major talent” he captivated his audience throughout.

On both weekends of the festival, young talented musicians of all levels and abilities took part in the first set of Master Music Piano Competitions (results can be found here). They performed to an adjudicating panel of Ji Liu, Pianist and Teacher Yvonne Behar and Classical Music Philanthropist Doreen Tabor MBE. The top prize offered in collaboration with famed piano maker Steinway & Sons – of an all expenses paid visit to Hamburg, Germany for a private tour of the Steinway & Sons Factory – was awarded to Wheathampstead pianist Barnabas Jean-Barry Poggi. The festival plans to return again next year.

Competition Prize Winner Emma Wu
Competition Prize Winner Emma Wu