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Prince treated to piano performance by nine-year-old girl

Published 08/02/2016

The Prince of Wales meets Charlotte Kwok
The Prince of Wales meets Charlotte Kwok

The Prince of Wales was treated to a piano performance at Buckingham Palace, by a nine-year-old girl playing a piece called The Prince.

Pianist Charlotte Kwok performed at a gala concert Charles hosted on Monday for The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama - of which he is the Patron - in the palace's ballroom.

Dame Shirley Bassey, actor Michael Sheen and singer Bryn Terfel also watched Charlotte, who attends the College's Junior Conservatoire, along with performances from students at the College.

Charlotte said: "I was probably the most excited I have ever been."

Congratulating Charlotte on her performance of Frank Bridge's The Prince after greeting the audience in Welsh, Charles said: "We are so lucky to have an example of such creativity and talent at such a young age."

The concert featured extracts from Henry V and the opera Tosca, a performance of the Welsh lullaby Suo Gan and an adapted piece from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.

Charles thanked the College's supporters for funding scholarships and the world-class rehearsal and performance facilities.

He said listening and watching the College's students brought him joy. Charles said: "The College, apart from anything, is a great opportunity to celebrate the future."

The Prince scored a laugh from the students when he admitted having tried acting himself at school, but had realised he was "very bad".

Charlotte Kwok spoke to Charles with her parents after her performance and said he had been interested to hear about her playing.

She said: "He asked me how old I was and how long I had been playing. He said it was very good."

Her mother Chui Au and father Nicholas Kwok said they were "incredibly proud" of their daughter.

Her father, who moved from Hong Kong to the UK 30 years ago and now lives in Pontyclun said: "We are so pleased for her. She enjoyed it and it is her night.

"As it is Chinese New Year it is very special for Charlotte to play on this very special night."

Cuts to arts funding risked allowing only the privileged to pursue careers as actors, Michael Sheen said before the concert.

The Welsh actor, who has starred in films including The Queen and The Damned United, is an international chair in drama at the college and said he wanted to encourage funding for more scholarships to help students who would not otherwise be able to afford to.

He said: "We want to make sure that people no matter where they are from, no matter what their background, if they have talent, if they have drive, if they have passion, that they can come to the college and go off and work in the wider world."

He added: "The challenge are actors coming from areas where they don't have the money or the financial support.

"We don't want actors just to be all coming from one particular set of circumstances."

The actor, who grew up in Port Talbot in south Wales, said his time at the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre had seen a "combustible fusion" of creativity thanks to the amount of young actors from different backgrounds.

He said: "I just hope we don't lose that with all the cuts that are going on, especially within the arts world.

"The danger would be that it is only young people coming from particular type of background that are able to do this.

"That is why it is so important that we get support for scholarships and access for young people coming from all kinds of areas."

Dame Shirley might have taken a different career route had she had different opportunities as a young performer, she told an aspiring singer.

Both she and Charles spoke to some of the young actors and musicians on the stage after the concert.

Chanae Curtis, 25, from Washington DC, is on the college's opera MA course and said the Goldfinger singer, who supports opera scholarships at the college, was full of praise for the show.

She said: "Just being here is incredible and then speaking to Shirley Bassey was amazing.

"It was nice to know that she liked it. She was so encouraging and had such a warm heart.

"She made a great comment and said that the college is opening doors and if she had had some of those opportunities when she was young she might have taken a different route."

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