A trip to another heartwarming charity in a Kensington living room last night, namely "Awards for Young Musicians". Their raison d'être is the feeling that there's a lot of wonderful music education around, but it's mainly accessed by middle class families who have both the means and the desire to get their kids into classical music. But there's also a lot of musical talent in families who simply can't scrape together the money for good teachers or for a decent quality instrument, and AYM tries to fill that gap, a little bit at a time.

Charles Hazelwood, one of the charity's patrons, gave a suitably impassioned address, and AYM then showed off three of their award-winning performers (aged 12, 14 and 16), all of whom performed to a very high standard. There was no question in my mind, however, as to who stole the show: 12-year old harpist Juliana Myslov, who played a Renaissance pavane by Antonio de Cabezon and a classical Sonatina by François Naderman. It was a delight simply to watch the way the harp seemed to be an extension of her own body (unaccountably, the fact that it was twice her size didn't seem to change this), and to watch her complete concentration on the music, blotting out the rest of the world. And her playing was superb: courtly and wistful on the pavane, elegant and poised on the sonatina, and with impeccable phrasing throughout.

Juliana was first smitten by the harp at the age of four, and insisted that it was the instrument for her, to the dismay of her divorced mother who couldn't possibly afford such an instrument. AYM stepped in and the rest was history. If she fulfils the promise shown last night, it's the start of something special.

28th May 2009

You can find out more about AYM on http://www.a-y-m.org.uk