Young Festival Critics

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5 – 8 YEARS OLD

Aleta Ely – Thumbelina – Picture:

Hannah Hunter Smart – Thumbelina – Written review: 

Thumbelina at Sheepdrove

The concert was brilliant. I loved it so much that I decided to pretend to have my own Thumbelina. I am so glad that you let us fidget and that there were beanbags and how you had the music telling the story – when the story was sad, the music was sad. When the story was happy, the music was happy. I loved how the music fitted with the story, and how we could see the pictures.

It was really fun doing the wedding dance at the end, after all the trouble that had been caused by the toad.

I had never seen two people playing the piano together. It was brilliant. I talked to one of the pianists at the end. When she was seven she used to practise the piano for three hours a day. Now I understand how she got to be so good! 

 

Mila Amari Yule – Wind in the Willows – written review:

 

 

John Teah – Sam Jewison Quintet – Video Recording:

 

Katerina Gasper – Mugenkyo – View Recording: 

Katerina Gasper – listen here

9 – 11 YEARS OLD

Henry – Mugenkyo – Written Review: 

 

Evie – Mughenkyo – Written Review: 

Martha Clayton – Sound Beginnings – Written Review: 

Martha Clayton – performance review 2024 – DOWNLOAD PDF

 

Harry Shriver – Mugenkyo – Written Review: 

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers

At Newbury Corn exchange On Tuesday 14th May 2024.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend such an amazing performance that was rightfully sold out.

I think it was moving in more ways than one – the intense vibrations were very powerful.

The echoes from the booming drums were out of this world, it as if two black holes were colliding and making a spectacular noise, also the choreography was brilliant because one minute you were like majestic peacocks, the next you were all like a tiger pouncing on is pray!

The show was a masterpiece in Japanese drumming and therefore the audience was 100 percent with me in appreciation of this event.

 

Adriel Comer – Finn Collinson – Written Review: 

I feel like not that many people play recorder professionally so I was excited to go see Finn Collinson as I play as well. Some of it was quite calming; some of it was quite upbeat and it really made you feel the music. I would definitely recommend him.  9 out of 10. It demonstrated quite a few different instruments and most of the different types of recorder.

We liked it so much we got his CD Threshhold and it makes you think a lot. 

12 – 18 YEARS OLD

 

Felix Wu – Sheepdrove Recital – Written Review: 

Concert name: The Sheepdrove Recital
Musician (Pianist): Mikhaïl Kazakevich

Mozart
-Sonatas in A major K.331 and D major K.311
-Adagio in B minor K.540

Chopin (Five Polonaises)
-Op. 26 No. 1 in C sharp minor
-Op. 26 No. 2 in E flat minor
-Op. 40 No. 1 in A major
-Op. 40 No. 2 in C minor
-Op. 44 in F sharp minor

Review: 

Although the switch of the order of the pieces has caused a slight suspicion, the confident start of Adagio in B minor has depleted the questioning.

The same piece that maybe don’t involve that much of skill level could be played in a very big difference between an advanced amateur and an actual professional; in this case, the adagio is obviously one of the easier pieces, but due to the emotional connection between Kazakevich and the piece, he conveyed the piece very expressively and the pale mix of sadness and the thought of wanting to forget memories.

As the story progresses, the recalling of the memories seems to have switched into a more delighted but elegant scene; this is especially suggested when the spread major chords were played quite heavily but not totally as if too energized and about to cause accidents or anger.

The 3 in 4 in the piece was quite hard to understand though, as the right hand’s mixed combination of the major chord which doesn’t completely follow a regular pattern or feeling which a normal melody might have.

Overall, being able to play the rest of the piece in a very high standard after the slightest mistake at the start definitely qualifies Kazakevich, a complete unknown person to a world-class pianist.

The first movement of the D major sonata obviously produced such a contrast to the Adagio, as the faster, more joyful and energized major melodies let me imagine playing in the fields or playground with other people. The quick staccatos at the start clearly states the liveliness of the first movement.

What I especially liked about the first movement is the relieved, soft and relaxed cadence which started to look like a plagal and then changed into a perfect cadence.

Next, the derivation of the previous melody lines were changed into a minor, starting at a whispering voice and gradually changing into a projected but controlled sound. It then recovered back to the initial melody.

The second movement was a very relaxed and calm act of the new and very sweet melody. 

The well controlled articulation with equal amounts of lightness really made the whole “chapter” more delicate and interesting.

It is interesting how the first movement ends in a soft and relaxed relief but the second ends aggressively but with no hostile means.

Although the Chopin’s Five Polonaises were very powerful, the sonata in A major from Mozart was probably my favourite; that is because you understand pieces that you yourself play the best, and I happen to be very familiar with this piece. The variations all involved a lot of scales and spread regrouped chords with the accompaniment of the left hand, but I favor the sixth variation the most because it has the grand feeling when the low spread chords sound with the fast fingerings on top. I really enjoy the sound when Kazakevich plays the very neat spread and regrouped chords, as they are fairly difficult to play but sounds somehow a bit like a flowing waterfall.

Although I wasn’t as familiar with the Menuetto than the previous melody, the strong and determined start was stuck in my head since then. In addition, towards the end, there were forte chords 

Concluding the performance as a whole, Kazakevich has done a great job conveying such a long performance and expressing all the different emotions and difficult skills such as accurate articulations or fast but equal scales.

 

Erica Phillips – Mugenkyo – Written Review: 

 

Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers Review

It’s an odd feeling to walk out of a concert hall with a feeling of not just awe, but the feeling you’ve really learned something; nevertheless, that’s certainly how I felt when I walked out from the Corn Exchange, having watched the phenomenal performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers.

One of my friends, who used to live in Japan, was really happy to see I would be getting to experience Taiko Drumming, and gave me a small explanation beforehand of what it was. Now that I have seen it and experienced it for myself, I am proud to say I will sincerely share that same joy for anyone else who may get to see some Taiko. The Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers in particular made my first experience with it utterly magical. When I’m eighty years old, I might not remember when and where I saw them, or the names of the pieces they performed, but what I’m certain I will never forget is the name Mugenkyo and the way they made me feel.

What I don’t think anything could have prepared me for was just how immersive a performance it was. Everything from the music itself to the choreography to the lights to the stage was powerful, beautiful and a spectacle in its own right. The staging seemed to almost morph between sections and songs, with such an impeccable understanding of how to arrange the instruments, and which colour of lighting to use, in order to transform a song you can hear and an emotion you can feel into a stage you can see. The colours especially gave each mood of each song a distinct atmosphere. One of the images from the performance that has stuck with me most is that of a woman, alone onstage, accompanied only by the biggest drum, bathed in a deep purple light. The sheer power of feeling she held, alone with that drum in such a dark, impassioned atmosphere, felt for me like a whole new emotion altogether. The talent it must take to convey a feeling like that so effectively is unbelievable.

I also never previously knew just how much of a physical art Taiko Drumming is, just so much as a musical one. The choreography on its own was breathtaking, for both the audience and the performers – their stamina was immense! You could see years of practice in how they were so in sync, and each movement was so striking and powerful while simultaneously flowing so well together. As for the songs, the amount I learned about the versatility of drums was astounding. I’ve been a musician since I was six, yet this sound of music was entirely new to me. It’s easy to think of drums on their own as just rhythm and noise, but as it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In a lot of western traditional music, there is sometimes the idea that you need a melody and perhaps a harmony for something to be a piece of music. However, Taiko Drumming is an art that proves that idea wrong; as long as there is sound, as long as there is rhythm and as long as there is passion, there is music, and Taiko has all of that and more.

Of course, that is not to say that in their performance there were no melodies, nor that melodies aren’t also amazing components of music. Another thing that will stay with me for a long time were the vocals they used in some of their pieces: sheer, incredible, raw vocals with harmony like you’ve never heard it before. It evoked such a strange emotion; not sad, not happy, not angry, but powerful, uplifting and moving.

Their talent as performers and masters of their craft, their wonderful songs and the hearty touch of comedy wasn’t even all of it. They were simply such delightful people to listen to. During the show, they told us about their group’s history, from their very inception right up to their latest projects. They were so sincere in their love for Taiko that you couldn’t help but share that interest. The event was a joyous one, on their 30th anniversary tour, yet it also paid homage to their late Sensei, the great man who helped them embark on this crazy journey with Taiko, helping bring it to so many more people. I would like to say thank you to the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, as just how your Sensei taught you, thank you for teaching me and your audiences about the wonderful world that is Taiko.