Beautiful music flowed through the grand entrance hall of Castle Coole, performed by piano students at their special Christmas recital, a first event of its kind at the Fermanagh National Trust property.

The idea of holding a Christmas recital for his students at Castle Coole was inspired by piano teacher Jonathan Beatty’s own experiences of performing there as a young musician. He said: “My first public performance was in Castle Coole where Fermanagh Choral Society usually provides opportunities for local young musicians to perform during their Christmas concert.”

He continued: “Jeanne Munroe, my piano teacher at the time, was conducting Fermanagh Coral Society and invited me to perform a solo piano piece. I was in fifth year at Portora and got to perform at the concert for the following two years before leaving to study music at Queen’s University Belfast.”

Having benefited from the performance opportunities he was provided, Jonathan wanted to offer a similar opportunity to his own students.

“I wanted to provide an experience for all of my students, particularly the younger students, so that they can build confidence in solo performance and recognise it as part of the joy of learning an instrument,” he said.

Performing to an audience consisting of family and friends, each student played either one or two pieces on the manor house’s Steinway piano which Jonathan described as being “grand and rich in tone.” The music ranged in style from classical to jazz, with some students opting to play pieces by famous composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. Others chose more contemporary pieces whilst a couple of students performed a piece from the musical Les Misérables.

One young musician had composed her own piece of jazz music which she played with confidence and skill that surpassed her years.

Speaking of his students’ performances during the recital, Jonathan commented: “It has been interesting to hear individual personalities portrayed in the music. My extrovert students played confidently, while the more introverted students played gently and sweetly. It was marvellous to witness those who are a little shyer in lessons getting up and performing boldly for the audience.”

He added: “These individualities and a diverse musical repertoire contributed to an enjoyable afternoon and I am very proud of all my students.”

Although his position is to teach, Jonathan finds that he quite often learns from and is inspired by his students. “It is an enjoyable challenge to explain piano technique and musicality in different ways for individual learning at the piano.”

During the final performance of the recital, Jonathan accompanied one of his students for a piano duet which was well received by the audience.

Following the success of the first Christmas recital, Jonathan hopes to provide more performance opportunities for his students. “Perhaps an annual Christmas recital or a summer concert to provide some of my other students with the chance to perform,” he mused.