Vladimir Ashkenazy – London Concert Day-Trip


December 11th 2011

A group of fourteen students had the opportunity to spend an action-packed day in London, the highlight of which was the chance to meet Vladimir Ashkenazy backstage at the Royal Festival Hall!


The day began with a very early meet at Jersey Airport, followed by the train to Victoria.  The walking route to the Thames presented the opportunity for the group to visit Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey:


Westminster Abbey


By 10am the group were standing under Big Ben in time to hear the chimes, and this was followed by a hot chocolate at County Hall on the river.  The next activity was a trip on the London Eye, quite a spectacular way of seeing the sheer size of the capital and the skyscrapers under construction.


London Eye


Some free time at the Christmas Market outside the Southbank Centre was next, followed by lunch in the cafe.  After lunch, the Philharmonia’s principal Percussionist David Corkhill met with the group, a close contact of Chris and Emmanuelle from teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  A trip backstage followed, a remarkable opportunity to see behind the scenes of one of the country’s leading concert halls, and Mr Corkhill was also able to introduce the group to the conductor of the concert, none other than Vladimir Ashkenazy:


Vladimir Ashkenazy with students


The group spent a wonderful question and answer session with Maestro Ashkenazy, asking questions they had prepared earlier in the day and finding out about life as a pianist and conductor, the differences with working in contrasting concert halls and with various different orchestras.  This was truly a once in a lifetime experience for all.


The concert itself opened with a scintillating performance of Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, followed by Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, who was encouraged through applause to give an encore of Debussy’s La Puerta del Vino.  The second half opened with De Falla’s Nights in the Gardens of Spain, and concluded with a seminal work which actually has a close connection to Jersey (as it is written that he actually started writing the work here) – Claude Debussy’s La Mer.  Of particular note was the rousing last movement, leading the whole concert to a truly epic conclusion.


London Train


A short train journey to Gatwick led to the group literally singing their way onto the plane with Christmas Carols!  We are grateful for the support of the Jersey Arts Trust in helping to cover many of the costs associated with the tour.