Belfast Telegraph

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

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

Pianist Charlotte Kwok performed at a gala concert hosted by Charles 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 the youngster, 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.

"The College, apart from anything, is a great opportunity to celebrate the future," he said.

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 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, 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."


From Belfast Telegraph