On Saturday visitors to St Wulfram’s church were treated to the debut public solo concert of violin music by a very young, but up-and-coming, lady by the name of Agatha Parkin.
At just 13 years old, she showed a remarkable expertise in her instrument – not surprising, since she’s been playing from the age of four! Her first teacher was local musician Laura Gardiner (who was attending the concert) and then, at 11, she was taught by Cynthia Fleming and, more recently, Professor Rodney Friend.
Agatha has been very active in local music circles, having won trophies at Grantham Music Festival three years running, from 2015. She also performs with the advanced ensembles of the well known Oasby Group. Outside Grantham she, and other young players, performed a Vivaldi concerto with Nicola Benedetti; more recently, she has attended masterclasses given by Györgi Pauk and also by the Brodsky Quartet.
Her violin is of unknown provenance (although samples of the violin’s wood have been sent for dendrochronological analysis) and Agatha got a very mellow, almost viola-like, sound out of it, especially in piano passages. Speaking of ‘piano’, Agatha was accompanied on that instrument, and for the most part, by St Wulfram’s Director of Music, Tim Williams, whom many readers will know.
Agatha took to the ‘stage’ (directly in front St Wulfram’s reredos), wearing a simple, knee-length, silver-grey frock, cinched at the waist. Her programme was a very varied one, ranging from the Baroque to the 20th century.
The programme started with the third Student Concerto (in G minor, and in three movements) by Friedrich Seitz (d.1918) – not at all a well-known composer nowadays. This was followed by Tim Williams’ announcement that the second piece would not be accompanied, so that he could have a rest!
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No.2 in D minor, which consists of four dance movements (‘parts’): Allemande, Corrente (‘Courant’), Sarabanda and Giga (‘Gigue’) is something of an achievement to play. Agatha’s third piece was the first movement of Giovanni Battista Viotti’s Violin Concerto No.2 (in A minor) – another difficult piece by another poorly known composer.
At this point, Agatha did away with her music stand and played the next two pieces from memory. These were Fritz Kreisler’s Tempo di Menuetto in the style of Gaetano Pugnani – claimed by Kreisler to one of several long-lost pieces by obscure composers which he actually wrote himself and which are now well known – and lastly, Niccolò Paganini’s Cantabile in D major.
All in all, this would have been a sophisticated programme for many violinists, but Agatha appeared to take it all in her stride. The concert will be the first of many, I hope – as will her being asked to autograph a programme! I wish her well.