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Category Archives: Portrait Photography

Violin Masterclass with György Pauk

One afternoon this spring, I found myself in a small practice room at the Royal Academy of Music in London, photographing a private masterclass led by György Pauk, Violin Professor at the Royal Academy and one of the greatest violinists of our time.

György Pauk

György Pauk teaching

During the masterclass, I was hugely impressed by the performances of his students Kristine Balanas and Chieri Tomii, as they responded to the skill and guidance of the maestro.

György Pauk with Kristine Balanas

Kristine Balanas from Latvia plays Beethoven’s violin sonata in G Major

Kristine Balanas at György Pauk masterclass

Light catches the violin.

Light on violin at György Pauk masterclass

Chieri Tomii from Japan plays the Saint-Saëns Rondo Capriccioso.

Chieri Tomii at György Pauk masterclass

It all began in Bangkok in May 2010 on a family day out in search of Sunday dim sum.  We were in the car enjoying the sounds of home in the form of the Desert Island Discs podcast: Kirsty Young’s gentle brogue mixing with the rich Hungarian tones of György Pauk. His story transported me to my childhood and memories of my late father, Emil Rado, and his narrow escape from the terrible fate suffered by so many Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

The coincidence did not end there however.  I distantly remembered that György Pauk had stayed with my family when I was a small child, during one of his Scottish tours with pianist Peter Frankl. They were performing in Glasgow, and we had the extraordinary honour of hearing them rehearse for the concert in our home – the two filling our humble living room with sounds straight from heaven.

György Pauk at masterclass

As I listened to the Kirsty Young interview, the similarities of Pauk’s and my father’s experiences in Hungary, both the charming and the tragic, became sharply apparent to me.

A year later we returned to the UK and during that time I had thought often of what a pleasure it would be to meet György again after so many years and to tell him how much I’d enjoyed the interview. This led to another set of coincidences: unable to find his contact details, I wrote to my Hungarian aunt Marika Somogyi in California on the remote off-chance she might know him – and discovered that she and György are great friends!

And so, after many decades, two years of daydreaming and some family assistance, I came to meet György Pauk once more.  He and his wife Zsuzsi invited me for lunch and we spoke of the many things that brought our families together. Finding a little courage before I left, I asked if I could photograph him at some point. I was delighted when he invited me to take photographs at one of his private masterclasses.

And so I had the privilege of spending a most beautiful afternoon at the Royal Academy of Music.

György Pauk demonstrating on violin

György Pauk at masterclass

Faces of György Pauk

György Pauk will hold his next public masterclass this Friday 11 May in the David Josefowitz Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London. I greatly look forward to being there – do come along if you can make it!

Eugene Eustaquio

Whenever he heard the sound of the organ as a young child, he cried at the beauty. There was no money for lessons and no access to a real instrument in his village in the Philippines, so he taught himself how to play by drawing a picture of a keyboard on paper and using it to practise.

Eugene Eustaquio is a talented and inspiring young man. I had the pleasure and good fortune to take his profile portraits and headshots one morning in my studio. He spoke about his life in music while I took photographs.

By the age of fourteen, he was singing, playing the organ and conducting the local church choir. He went on to study voice at university in the Philippines and then Bangkok; and now conducts a number of choirs – including the Bangkok Music Society and Mahidol University choir. He also sings here in many major roles in both opera and oratorio.

Eugene Eustaquio profile portraitEugene Eustaquio profile portrait 2Eugene Eustaquio profile portrait 3

We talked about his great passion for opera and I put on his favourite – ‘Rigoletto’ by Verdi – and asked if he’d ‘conduct’ it. Eugene was captivated by the music and conducted the overture as if he were facing a real orchestra. I was transported in an instant to the orchestra’s pit, and watched with delight as he leapt to cue the horns, summon the cymbals and signal the strings, his passion mesmerising to watch.

Eugene Eustaquio conducting

Eugene Eustaquio conducting 2

He then sang the celebrated and much-loved ‘O Sole Mio’ by the Neapolitan composer Eduard Capua while I listened in appreciation, taking photographs and feeling strangely like a Cornetto.

Eugene Eustaquio with music scoreEugene Eustaquio singing

What a pleasure!

Newborn photography

Newborn Photography

Here we have Lynn Victoria at just two weeks old. I’d taken Steve and Katie’s maternity portraits not long before, and it was a joy to see them again and meet baby Lynn for an almost (!) newborn photography shoot.

Celebrating the beginning of a new life, I was struck by the contrast to my previous day’s visit to the elderly community in the slums of Bangkok.

Lynn was one of the calmest babies I’ve ever encountered (including my own!) and remained asleep through almost the whole photo shoot. Mind you, when you look this lovely what is there to worry about?

Newborn photography

Newborn photography

Baby photographyBaby

Baby sleeping

Baby feetBaby feet

Sleeping baby