St Paul's Church, Chiswick

On a chilly November day, a talented bunch of young musicians and their dutiful parents braved the elements, traveling to the outskirts of London to prepare for a concert at St Paul’s Church, Chiswick.

With rehearsals starting at 2pm ahead of the 7pm concert, there was plenty to cover in a short space to time, as usual! The audience began to trickle in, enjoying a glass of wine and a healthy ice cream (dairy-free and no added sugar!) from the concert’s sponsor, Frill. The early birds caught the end of the Jazz Band’s rehearsal, too.

The concert got underway. First, the three soloists took their turns on the stage, starting with the prodigious pianist Sebastian. Before he could play, he’d have to be quizzed by the evening’s host, Future Talent alumnus and Ambassador Ben Weston-Conway, who did a fantastic job of profiling the musicians throughout the evening.

Sebastian, focused during rehearsal.

Sebastian, 12, told us about his achievements, notably the DipABRSM (diploma) he already holds for singing, and what he was currently working towards – another diploma (yep, seriously!) in piano, and Grade 8 organ. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he proceeded to play, positively perspicaciously, J.S. Bach’s Toccata in D major, and the audience – many of whom were at their first Future Talent concert, and perhaps unaware of what to expect from the performance – were well and truly blown away.

Next, Ben spoke to Hannah, a classical guitarist who joined Future Talent this year. Hannah gave an interesting account of the repertoire she covers, and told us that she’s working towards taking Grade 8 soon and then she’s off to university next year. She had needed a new guitar ahead of these events, and her Future Talent Award had helped her afford it.

Hannah impressed on her Future Talent debut.

She then played three contrasting pieces: Birds flew over the Spire by Gary Ryan, Promise by Yvonne Bloor and Parisian Waltz by Tatiana Stachak. The warm tones of Hannah’s playing lulled the audience into a state of serenity. Her performance was a delightful insight into a lesser heard but rich repertoire.

We then crossed the threshold into the world of pop music as we heard from Asia, the second Future Talent debutant of the evening. A student at the BRIT School of Performing Arts in London, the talented singer-songwriter showcased what she’d been working on recently; she treated us to some of her own material – a moving song, called Teardrops – and a well-loved classic, Fast Car by Tracey Chapman. The performance was intimate and full of feeling.

Asia accompanied herself astutely on the piano for both songs.

With a shift to yet another genre on this musically eclectic evening, the final act of the evening was the newly formed Future Talent Jazz Band, rehearsed and led by renowned British jazz drummer Clark Tracey, for whom this was also the first time involved with Future Talent.

Before they performed, Clark told the audience about how impressed he was with the talent of the band, having not known quite what to expect prior to the rehearsal that afternoon. He spoke at length about the importance of the work of charities and institutions such as Future Talent given the current state and direction of music and the arts in schools, which was met with applause from the audience.

We were treated to hearing Take the A-Train (Ellington, arr. Strayhorn) and Duffy’s Circus, written by Clark’s late father and jazz piano giant Stan Tracey.

Considering they had met for the first time at 3.30pm that day, and rehearsed together for a total of two hours, the boys did a fantastic job of two challenging pieces. Their musicianship and sense of ensemble shone through; each kept a watchful eye on Tracy’s direction, showing disciplined timekeeping key to delivering the repertoire in what was a tricky acoustic environment.

(From left to right) Hugo, Archie and Jamie strutting their stuff.

Each musician had their moment to shine with solos, and each shone as bright as the last. Scottie had clearly studied Stan Tracey’s own playing in recordings of Duffy’s Circus, and executed his solos with maturity and shrewdness, all the while clearly having a great time! Alex, the youngest in the band by some way at age 10, but by no means behind the others on merit, dazzled us with his guitar skills, while new Future Talent musicians Hugo and Jamie on bass and drums respectively, provided as solid a back line a band could want. Archie, who is well accustomed to fronting jazz bands and improvising his socks off, deserves a special mention, as he managed to transpose his part and relearn it in the correct key during the rehearsal, and by the time of the performance you’d have thought he’d been playing it in that key for weeks.

Overall the evening was a massive success. It was a joy to witness a host of new Future Talent musicians showcasing their skills. To have welcomed an appreciative audience made up of loyal supporters as well as a whole new group being introduced to our work was a huge bonus, and we’re sure they will be back again and again in the future.