Review: Dr. Ridley-Smith’s Performance Part 2

June 25, 2024 | 2 Comments

[Written by Dale Butler]

I am happy to report that pianist Constance Ridley-Smith added another title to her music career in the prestigious Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, June 23rd at 1.00pm.

Thirty-seven participants represented themselves very well in front of an audience of attentive parents and friends. This is certainly not a concert to call out a child’s name and unnerve him/her like many regularly do in Bermuda. Here the audience listened and responded with applause, which was heartening to the well dressed and professional participants who took on this foreboding task. The age groups were presented in part one of my report, with Constance being grouped in the “college students and professional musicians category.”

A beautiful programme was presented upon arrival with a photo and bio. Here are a few observations about the children:

  • many of the children started at age 6
  • many of them enjoyed performing in concerts or for hospitals and charities
  • many had prestigious teachers with doctorates
  • in addition to music, many had a suitcase of activities they were involved in
  • many had already won awards around the world
  • I was familiar with the most popular composers chosen: Mendelssohn, Chopin, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Debussy and Liszt, but need to brush up on Burgmuller, Bartok, Stephen Heller, and Tamitz
  • the grand piano was the Steinway 9-foot Concert Grand, which is the most elite of grand pianos
  • most participants were pianists, but several played other instruments, including flute, clarinet, and cello, and there was one saxophone player

They all entered the stage confidently and professionally, knowing exactly how to bow and take their place before starting their song. I was very impressed with the quality of talent that came on the stage and before I knew it, Constance Ridley-Smith, number 34, blessed us with her presence in a beautiful/resplendent red formal gown that made her and Bermuda proud.

With grace and purpose, Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude n.12 Op.10 C minor” was played by her with the fervor, determination, and the dramatic dynamics he wrote on the original manuscript that now sits in the archives of Stiftelsen, Stockholm. From the first note she held the audience in her hands based on her flawless technical and passionate delivery of this composition that pushed the boundaries of pianistic virtuosity and complex rhythmic structures, and showed her prowess and technical agility.

The composition – with its rapid passages with fast paced sections – demanded precise coordination, which she accomplished adding rousing dimensions to the performance. A tour de force that will no doubt lead her to additional competitions and even the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which has the largest international audience in the world and has been known to establish, with high honours, the careers of many pianists.

To do so, she had to complete the entire piece which contained cascading scales, rapid arpeggios, fast runs across the keyboard that required impeccable speed in order to execute these passages with precision and clarity. Constance would have delighted Chopin from start to the abrupt ending of the piece as one writer stated, “thunderous fortissimos are followed by delicate pianissimos so you have to have control over a wide-range of dynamics.” We were left speechless at the end. She had indeed created dynamic contrast that the piece commands and she did effectively convey the shifting moods of intensities of the music. I don’t think I breathed until the last note was played.

Present to support her were lifelong friends and a Julliard classmate who resides in the USA.

Well done Dr. Constance Ridley-Smith. You have made history and you are leaving your footsteps in the musical hall of fame. Today, you were the icing on the cake with your performance after so many youth had set standards that inspired us all. God has smiled on you and with your new plan I have no doubt you will reap baskets of rewards.

PS: News was just received that Dr. Ridley-Smith will soon be conferred the Certificate in Core Music Skills from the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. Any student who is serious about world-class music performance can enlist the services of Dr. Ridley-Smith as an add-on to their current study of music. The curriculum will be Conservatory Prep, covering scales, theory, ear training, and piano and flute technique.

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- Dale Butler was concerned he might not know what to write about this international event until he realized that his family had prepared him years ago by playing a variety of music at home and by sending him to concerts held by St. Paul A.M.E. that regularly featured outstanding American performers. In addition to all of that, at the Berkeley Institute his music teacher, Joseph Richards and Eustace Jones also played the classics. You can reach him at or 595-9841. Next weekend he will report on Bermudian flutist Michael Taylor, who will undergo the same process.

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Comments (2)

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  1. W L Burnett says:

    Very Nice? Your mother and father would have been so proud of your performance? You are looking great? You have my support and blessings?

  2. Uncle Lou,
    Thank you for being a part of this event. It means so much to hear you connect my beloved parents with this event/ this honor. Thank you for the remembrance of them and for being a part of my village, as I grew up.

    Love to you and all of the Burnetts,

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