We would like to welcome all our participants, including their teachers and parents/guardians for taking part in the
AROUND THE GLOBE
8th Annual Piano Competition Online 2021
Thanks to everyone involved in this event for their enthusiasm, talent and hard work, and we are thrilled that most of our contestants from the UK and as far away as Singapore will perform in the Second-Round on Zoom Online Social Platform.
We look forward to sharing with you the many talented pre-recorded performances by amateur pianists in both Junior and Adult categories, and listening to the exciting and enlightening adjudicators’ comments on the following dates:
Sunday 21st November 2021 – Junior Piano Categories
BST 10 – 1 PM
Worldwide Contemporary and Jazz Music, Grade Repertoire and Short Recital Classes
Principal Adjudicator Marcel Zidani
Sunday 28th November 2021 – Junior Piano Categories
BST 10 – 12.15 PM
Free Choice and Short Recital Classes
Principal Adjudicator Marina Petrov
Sunday 5th December 2021 – Adult Piano Categories
BST 10 – 12 PM
Traditional Styles (Advanced) and Adult Piano Learners Classes
Principal Adjudicator Tau Wey
Anyone interested in joining us to watch and listen to these fantastic talented pianists as an independent viewer should contact us via email to book a ticket at £10, including a ZOOM link for these events. One ticket covers 3 people that can view competition from different devices.
In retrospect, AGMA was thrilled to launch the YOUNG MUSICOLOGIST COMPETITION 2021 earlier this year.
The idea was to motivate and encourage students up to 18 years of age to develop their musical writing to a higher educational level and greater standard.
In addition, our panel found it very challenging to choose one winner amongst so many talented students, ranging in age from children to young adults. For this reason, distinct age categories will be introduced in future musicologist competitions.
We hope it may be of interest to you to read the YMC 2021 winner’s fascinating article Long Live Petruska, written by Jason Yuan, 12 years old, which was published in our recent Around the Globe Music Magazine 2021, Vol. 4.
Furthermore, the jury was also very impressed with Pippa’s Theme anarticle by Grace Hall, 18 years old, awarding it to be highly commended and agreed it should be published in the AGMA newsletter. We hope that our audience will find this confidently and skilfully written work pleasurable to read!
Pippa’s Theme: An Exploration of Intimacy
Grace Hall, 18 years old
Describing his work as “assessable music for complex emotions”, Joep Beving seeks to capture humanity’s relationship with reality through three albums: Solipsism, Prehension and Henosis. Beving’s musical journey began at an early age, though like with many musicians it was temporarily halted when he entered the working world. His reconnection with music came when he inherited his grandmother’s Schimmel piano in 2009 and his musical style shifted from virtuosic to a simpler form of emotional expression. While Solipsism focuses on the relationship between the individual and the outside world, Prehension explores intimacy and the complexities of human connection. Then, from the individual to the group, Beving takes one step further: the focus of the final album Henosis is on humanity’s relationship with the cosmos.
There are several musical features that define Beving’s style: the first is that generally his music is not technically complex. Throughout his music one gets the sense that his focus is on quality rather than quantity: if he can achieve a desired effect through simplicity, then he will do so with little desire to write virtuosically. In this way his style reminds me of the French composer Erik Satie and, like Satie, his music is repetitive,1 not only within individual pieces but throughout his albums. For example, he will often repeat certain motifs within and between songs, resulting in his pieces flowing into one another. Within this repetition, however, there is flexibility: rubato is a given in the majority of his pieces, and subtle changes in dynamics are frequent. It is also worth noting that Beving plays around with the timbre of his instrument: he always plays with the piano lid up, and often the piano is tuned slightly below the conventional A = 440Hz, creating a sound unique to Beving’s music.
The piece I will be discussing is taken from his second album, Prehension. In accordance with the album’s theme, the piece is dedicated to another person through its title: Pippa’s Theme. I chose to discuss this piece because its melodic contours and harmonic progressions are not only enjoyable to play, but because its music resonates with a part of me that perhaps, like Beving, longs for intimacy. Pippa’s Theme is quietly relentless: there are no rests, and the pervasive arpeggiated figure in the left hand is in constant motion. The result of this unending repetition is that the listener receives no respite from the music’s melancholic feel. Though repetition is abundant, there is some contrast to be found. The final section begins not in F minor but in F major, immediately alerting the ear that something new is taking place. As the section progresses, the notes move lower and lower down the piano, before rising with a slow and then faster scale in the melody, peaking with an ornamental mordant. This melodic movement feels as if we are following the character through their emotive state, drawing on strength or anger in the lower notes and shifting to elation in the higher notes, emphasised by the giggling-like mordant.
Development is a key component of this piece. The central theme returns frequently, but with subtle changes. At the beginning of the piece, the melody begins on a C, harmonised by the second inversion of F minor, creating a subdued and elusive tone. Then, the theme’s nature changes as more of the piano’s range is used. The melody opens out to a G and the accompaniment moves down to the tonic F, creating a fuller, more expansive sound. Similar variation is found in the latter half of the piece, where twice the melody rises in a scale instead of following its usual arc. These melodic flourishes are extremely enjoyable to play, adding enough variety to keep the listener engaged while still remaining grounded in the central theme.
One of Pippa’s Theme’s most striking features, encompassing a large part of why I love the piece, is its harmonic progression. The main theme is built around an unusual chord progression: tonic to submediant. These chords contrast beautifully, and though the submediant chord within the key of F minor is Db major, the chord retains a wistful dissonance through its G natural passing notes. Every second bar, the opening notes of the melody ring out like bells, cutting through the ever-moving accompaniment. When these notes are paired with the left hand, they become poignantly dissonant, for example a G in the melody will be played alongside either an F or a Db in the accompaniment. It is clear Beving favours tonal and semi-tonal chordal movement, attributing to the piece’s unending sense of flow. In the latter half of the central theme for example, the chords rise from F minor to G minor to Ab major to Bb minor, climbing the F minor scale. Through this ascending movement, Beving builds intensity which is then resolved by perhaps my favourite harmonic movement of the piece: Ab major falls to a warm G major which moves down another semitone to rest on the dramatic Neapolitan chord, Gb major. There is no perfect cadence to conventionally resolve this chord: Beving unabashedly moves straight back to F minor. In fact, Beving ends the piece with this chord, choosing not to return to F minor but instead finishing with a ringing G in the right hand, which in its sparseness sounds to me like a bird call gone unanswered.
Through its unique harmonic progression, lilting rhythms and resonant melody, Pippa’s Theme has become one of my favourite pieces both to play and listen to. In the context of his wider discography, the piece exemplifies Beving’s style, remaining simplistically elegant while decorated with enough flourish to captivate the listener’s attention. Beving’s compositional style harks back to pre-modernist traditions, where music was written for the enjoyment of the player, keeping the performer’s and listener’s interests in mind as well as the composer’s. Above all else, I believe Beving shows that music does not have to be complicated to be beautiful: the intimacy of his music proves this.
1 In “Erik Satie and the Music of Irony,” R. D. Chennevière and F. H. Martens write that “One feels that [Erik Satie’s] sense of hearing, his nerves, vibrate sensuously, lulled by these infinite undulations [referring to chordal repetitions] of sound.” The same is, I believe, true of Beving’s music.
Rudhyar D. Chennevière and Frederick H. Martens, “Erik Satie and the Music of Irony”, The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 4 Oxford University Press, Oct. 1919.
Grace Hall engages with music at a high standard both on an academic and extracurricular level. She joined Sevenoaks School in 2016 with the top academic scholarship and a music exhibition. While at Sevenoaks, Grace participated in numerous choirs and chamber groups, with her primary instrument being singing. In 2019, she achieved 10 GCSEs at grade 9 and A* level, with one of her subjects being Music. In sixth form, Grace studied Music as part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma, along with English, Latin, Philosophy, Biology and Maths. She achieved top grades in all her subjects including a score of 98% in Music. Outside of school, Grace sings in the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and was a soloist on their Summer 2021 residential course. Her most recent achievement has been achieving a distinction in her ABRSM singing diploma, which she sat in July. In the future, Grace hopes to study music at Oxford University.