The Independent London Newspaper
23rd July 2014

Letters

Sisters bring musical magic to our streets

The Theodoly sisters
their mother Helene

Pictured Top: The Theodoly sisters
Pictured Bottom: their mother Helene

Published: 9 May, 2013
by JOHN GULLIVER

THE enchanting Hampstead lane, Flask Walk, was transformed into a concert hall the other Saturday when I came across the haunting sound of the popular Pachelbel’s Canon from the violins of three young girls.

The last time I heard the piece was in the foyer of a Parisian tube station – now I was in heaven in Hampstead.

It turned out the girls – the family live in Belsize Park – are sisters playing for the love of the music, and collecting money for charity.

Some passers-by may have regarded this as a pleasant kind of busking. Money, I noticed, was dropped easily into the collection box.

But while Camden is one of the few London boroughs unregulated for busking, I wouldn’t demean their playing with the description “busking”. This was beautiful classical music of which we hear so little in public spaces.

Their mother, Helene Theodoly, told me she believed encouraging her daughters to play in the street helped them to improve performing skills – and was quite simply a way to ensure more practice of their “lovely” instrument.

Perceptively, she also made the point that music practice can be a “lonely endeavour” and suggested that practising in Flask Walk can “communicate a universal language of emotion to as many as possible”.

The girls and their brother learnt the violin through the Japanese Suzuki method where emphasis is put on listening to the tune rather than on first learning to read music.

I wasn’t surprised to find that the oldest girl, Manon, aged 12, is now studying for the 8th grade, while her sisters, twins Grace and Faye, aged 10, have reached the 7th. Their brother Marc, 8, another violinist, frequently joins them in street performances.

Nor was I surprised to discover that their repertoire is extensive including Bach, Kreisler, Handel and Elgar.

The mother’s love of music has obviously been passed onto her children.

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