Oakham School’s twelfth annual Piano Duet Competition took place on the afternoon and evening of Thursday 27 February and was once again a feast of collaborative piano playing by 90 pianists under the direction of inspiring Head of Piano, Anne Bolt. We were privileged to have international concert pianist Charles Owen as our adjudicator, and he dedicated a great deal of time throughout the day inspiring many leading pianists both in individual lessons and in a masterclass in Chapel, working on music as varied as Schubert, Chopin, Parry, Scriabin and Prokofiev.
Charles’ experience as both a performer, high-level teacher and regularly duet player really came to the fore in the competition, which ran from 4.30pm to 8.00pm. His words of wisdom offered great advice to our young pianists, covering everything from beauty of touch, the importance of silent bar lines, how to re-group after a mishap, and refining pedalling. He also offered guidance on the challenge of partnering another musician, particularly focussing on the importance of breathing together, co-ordination and counting, all of which then reap benefits for solo piano playing too.
He was hugely impressed by the teaching, playing and pupil presentation at Oakham School, comparing it to the standard more normally seen in specialist music schools. In the three competition classes, the following pupils performed particularly well:
Winners – Charlotte Byron & Emily Hall
Runners-up – Eleanor Foort & Stephanie Foort
Highly commended – Henry Bluff & Hugo Howlett
Winners – Findlay Marsh & Will McEuen
Runners-up – Evie Holder & Katie King
Highly commended – Beatrice Selkirk & Daisy Selkirk
Winners – Bethany Davis & Samantha Hughes
Runners-up – Patrick Donnelly-Cullen & Matthew Everall
Highly commended – Obi Osuji & Torah Savant