Familiar face charms her audience by trip to piano heaven

Pianist Vivian Choi who performed a selection of works by famous composers at Swineshead Village Hall as part of the Windmill Studio Concerts series.
Pianist Vivian Choi who performed a selection of works by famous composers at Swineshead Village Hall as part of the Windmill Studio Concerts series.

MUSIC REVIEW: Vivian Choi (pianist), Windmill Studio Concerts, South Holland Centre, Spalding

Macau-born pianist Vivian Choi is no stranger to Swineshead, nor south Lincolnshire, having appeared as a guest of Windmill Music Club at least four times within the past six years.

Musicality and charm were the hallmarks which underpinned the whole occasion of the recital given recently at Swineshead Village Hall by pianist Vivian Choi

Windmill Studio Concert review by Brian Moore (December 2012)

Described by music critic Brain Moore as a blend of “musicality and charm” after one of Vivian’s previous visits to Swineshead Village Hall in December 2012, an intimate audience who enjoyed the pianist’s intricate and enviable keyboard skills found out that nothing has changed in 2016.

Globetrotting pianist’s visit to Swineshead concert

Piano star in concert

Playing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Schubert, Vivian displayed a vivid and vibrant imagination for interpreting classic piano works in a contemporary setting.

Her credentials as a piano scholar, music analyst and international broadcaster were enhanced by the delicate treatment she gave to each of her chosen works, particularly Brahms who, Vivian later confessed after the concert on Friday, was her favourite composer.

There was even time for a double parting gift of more Chopin to Vivian’s admiring audience who appreciated the immense dexterity displayed on, of all things, a early 20th century Bechstein grand piano.

After the concert, Vivian said: “I’m thrilled to be part of a concert series that has run for 49 years and 11 months.

“I was introduced to Bettina Houlder by Jillian Skerry, a distinguished pianist and teacher based in Huntingdon which is in the same county where I live.

“Jillian told me about Bettina’s Windmill Studio Concert series and put us in touch.

“Then Bettina told me that she wanted to bring live music to the local community so they could attend concerts without having to travel too far. “I admire the tireless effort Bettina has put into this long-running project and it’s particularly great that children can attend free of charge.”

Vivian was born in Macao, a city on the edge of China which was run by the Portuguese until 1999, and grew up in Hong kong before coming to England aged 15.

She studied at the Royal College of Music and King’s College, both in London, before gaining a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Vivian has won numerous musical prizes, made a number of CD recordings and has performed across the world, but she is now based in Cambridge.

“I remember the first time I played at Swineshead Village Hall when the temperature outside was zero degrees celsius,” Vivian said.

“The audience was such a warm bunch and they have remained so even when the temperature outside was above zero at subsequent concerts.

“The piano at Swineshead Village Hall has a fragile, harmonious, ripply quality which I believe to be not far from those experienced by pianist-composers such as Liszt and Brahms during their lifetimes.

“I therefore considered this quality when I chose my programme because the piano I used in Swineshead is quite different from modern instruments in that the player has to adjust to its delicate quality.

“But its lighter touch also means that we don’t have to work too hard physically.”

Review by Winston Brown