A former professional pianist celebrated her 95th birthday at Bourne View in Poole by performing live again more than ten years after she last played a note.
Myrtle Smith, an outstanding classically trained chamber musician, gave up the instrument in her early 80’s saying she felt ‘too old’.
But she was invited by our Music & Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard to spend her birthday this year playing on Bourne View’s grand piano.
The pair rehearsed and performed several pieces, with Fiona accompanying Myrtle on treble recorder and French horn.
It surprised and delighted fellow residents and staff who gathered to listen.
Myrtle, who described the experience as ‘wonderful’, was recognised for her skills on the piano as she grew up in 1930s London.
At just 11 years old, she achieved Grade 8 and at 18 won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, the first step in a successful career as a chamber musician.
She played hundreds of concerts accompanying fellow musicians and singers and, in later life, became a piano teacher.
Fiona said: “Knowing of Myrtle’s love of playing, I wanted to see if there was an opportunity to rekindle her interest. “I knew she hadn’t played for over ten years, with her saying at the time that she felt she may be too old.
“We approached the idea of playing together very gently and she agreed to give it a go and see how it went.
“Staff and residents were astonished, so pleased that Myrtle had been enticed to play.
“Myrtle explained afterwards that she felt a bit rusty after her break of more than a decade but is now keen to play again as she feels it is so good for her.” Myrtle said: “It was a wonderful experience and I thank Fiona for bringing in her instruments and inviting me to play.”
Myrtle and Fiona are already planning more performances in the months ahead.