Two years ago or so, Laura van der Heijden, then still only 15 years of age, played the Walton Cello Concerto in the finals of the 2012 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, and won the hearts of the judges - and also a much wider audience who saw her play and marvelled at her technical assurance and musicianship.
Tom Poster, who also made his London concerto debut at a tender age, was every bit her equal as a performer, and between them they gave the audience at Shrewsbury a concert to be treasured for a very long time. The lovely thing also, was to see an audience of huge diversity in age, including some very young aspiring musicians coming to see someone still so young perform so wonderfully. They cannot fail to have been inspired by what they saw and heard. Laura had also heard three young cellists play to her earlier in the day, and that too will have been a tremendous experience for them, and hugely valuable in terms of technical and musical advice.
Laura and Tom played a wonderfully diverse programme ranging from the monumental fourth cello sonata by Beethoven and Schubert’s outpouring of lyricism in his Arpeggione Sonata in the first half of the concert, through the rhythmical energy of Fitkin and harmonic piquancy of Poulenc in the second. The technical and musical assurance from both players was simply breath-taking. The audience stamped and roared their approval at the end, and were treated to a sublime encore, Ravel’s Piece en forme de Habanera.
Laura also spoke warmly of her visit to the School, praising both the acoustic of the Maidment as one of the finest she has ever played in, and also the quality of the catering in Kingsland Hall! It was an evening of mutual admiration.