Back in January, Jack Thompson spotted an advertisement in his local paper asking for applicants to this year’s Dulwich Piano Festival. It said any amateur pianist could enter. So Jack went to see the organiser, Lorraine Liyanage, to ask if he could apply at his age – 73.
Lorraine didn’t bat an eyelid although she said her main aim as a teacher of piano was to hold a competition in which young students would have the chance to perform in public.
However, she had had one or two approaches from adults and was thinking of creating a special class for them to enter. In the event, two grown-ups applied, one of them dropping out at the last minute owing to illness, So, at the end of June 2013 in the Old Library at Dulwich College, Jack found himself the only adult competing against children who, he said, showed considerable talent.
“And, boy was I nervous! But everybody – organisers, the adjudicator (Penelope Roskell of Trinity College of Music) and proud parents – were very kind and indulgent.”
There were 11 in Jack’s class (Grades 3 – 5 and beyond), all young people of various ages playing a wide range of music from Tchaikovsky to Beethoven, Liszt to Gershwin.
Jack played “Tango” by Albeniz. He won joint second prize together with five-year-old Alanna Crouch who played “Tarantella” by Burgmuller! (The winner in their class was a talented seven year-old, who played Sonatina in F by Beethoven beautifully.) said.
He has now been asked to perform at the prize-winners’ concert in January in the Michael Croft Theatre at Alleyn’s School. Jack, a former BBC foreign correspondent, who has been described as “an Albert Finney lookalike”, attended no fewer than seven Oldie Piano Weekends run by the inimitable late Raymond Banning. Jack fervently wishes they were still up and running so that he could hone his skills and perhaps win a first prize at next year’s Dulwich Piano Festival.
Lorraine Liyanage adds: The Dulwich Piano Festival has grown to a 2 day event with two adjudicators: Graham Fitch adjudicating the intermediate and advanced level students, and Frances Wilson adjudicated beginners and novice pianists. There is now a dedicated class for adult students, as well as 4 classes for beginners and a concerto class as the venue has 2 grand pianos available.
Entries are now open (deadline 31 March 2013). You can pick up an entry form and syllabus from Captured on the Rye, 85 Pellatt Road, East Dulwich SE22 9JD or you can see more details here: http://dulwichpianofestival.co.uk