It was the PCEC’s Words & Music event X at the October 14, 2018 meeting. We were welcoming back 11-year-old musical wunderkind Ben Rudolf assisted by composer Marcus Tristan to not only entertain us, but to talk about music assessment organizations.
Ben has been playing music since the age of four and has been composing for the past two to three years. Ben attends Anda Performing Arts School in Pattaya. This school was founded with the vision of encouraging students to try many new artistic activities in a nurturing environment, while enjoying themselves at the same time. The school has professional instructors from the USA, UK, Philippines, and Thailand. Marcus has worked with Ben and is very impressed with his talent. Ben won first place in the 4-11 age group, at the Yamaha, Junior Eurasian Competition in Bangkok.
Marcus, also a self-described child prodigy, mastered the art of composition at a very early age. He started to write music at the age of two and wrote his first extended musical composition at the age of six. Marcus graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in London, England, in 1990, which is the oldest conservatoire in the UK. While attending the Academy, he took private lessons with Oliver Messiaen and worked as a freelance composer and pianist in the Birmingham area. He played for and wrote dance pieces for an international group of dancers, including a young Russian dancer, Valentina, whom he later married.
Today, Ben was playing on a Yamaha keyboard. All of today’s music was played without any accompanying words. A selection of music by different composers was chosen for the event. Ben looked very comfortable behind the keyboard. The audience were obviously enjoying the performance since the observers’ heads could be seen rocking back and forward in time to the music.
Ben mentioned that songs without words were promoted by Felix Mendelssohn. They are pieces of instrumental music, usually for solo piano, that are structured like a lyrical song and often have a strong melody. Chopin wrote a Barcarolle in F sharp. Where Barcarolle is a Venetian Gondola song, with the melody representing the chant of the Gondolier, and the rolling bass evoking the rolling swell and waves in the canals of Venice.
We were informed by Ben that the world has several bodies that assess musical ability. The Yamaha Music School is popular even here in Thailand. Another popular Music School is Trinity Music College in London. Ben follows “The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music” (The ABRSM was founded in 1889). More than 600,000 candidates take ABRSM exams each year in over 93 countries. ABRSM rates musicians according to a scale from 1 to 8 (8 being the highest). The exams are for over 35 instruments and incorporate individual components depending what level you are. The student is required to play pieces from three different types of music.
When Ben was performing at the PCEC a year ago he also impressed the audience with his talent by singing “Hallelujah” and John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwQ_H0S7zbzWYoWAJZPozew for You Tube videos featuring Ben’s musical abilities. Visit http://www.marcustristan.com/ for Marcus Tristan’s webpage.
After the presentation, MC Judith Edmonds brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and then turned it over to the Open Forum portion of the meeting where questions are asked and answered and comments made about Expat living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular. For more information about the PCEC and their activities, visit www.pcec.club.