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Top pianist William Fong helps celebrate Sunderland Pianoforté Society’s 70th birthday

Pianist William Fong and Sunderland Pianoforte Society Chairman Alan Swallow before the start of a recital to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the society.
The society now meets in the pottery room of Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden

Pianist William Fong and Sunderland Pianoforte Society Chairman Alan Swallow before the start of a recital to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the society. The society now meets in the pottery room of Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden

EXPERT pianist William Fong helped a Sunderland society celebrate 70 years of music.

The classical musician tinkled the ivories with music from Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Ravel at an anniversary recital, the group’s 423rd, to mark seven decades since the formation of Sunderland Pianoforté Society.

The North-East born musician has toured the globe with his performances, but this one was extra special – Sunderland is home to the only known Pianoforté Society in the world.

Though there are other piano societies, no others use the formal name for the instrument.

The recital was a proud moment for members, many of whom have been part of the society for decades.

Society secretary Lily Scot said: “The society was started by a group of amateur pianists to encourage people to take up piano,” explained Lily. “Back in those days, a member would play for around 15-20 minutes before the professional recital.

“I remember one of the first recitals I went to, a lady played Chopin. She hit all sorts of wrong notes, but everyone encouraged her.”

Today, the recitals are dedicated to professional performances and the charity has attracted a host of celebrated pianists to play on its grand piano over the years including Benno Moiseiwitsch, Joseph Weingarten, Sarah Beth Briggs and Eileen Joyce.

Recitals are open to members of the public and the society actively encourages people to come along and hear pianists at the top of their game live.

“You don’t necessarily have to play the piano to be interested and appreciate the music,” explained Lily. “We’re an enthusiastic, warm and attentive audience.”

l Remaining recitals this season are Christopher Guild on March 5, and Jayson Gillham on April 9. Recitals take place in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens at 7.15pm.

l The admission fee is £12 per recital, free for accompanied children under 16 or £6 concessions. The price of a full subscription (six recitals a season) is £55. Visitors can pay on the door

Twitter: @SunechoKaty

 

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