Star pianist is special guest at her old teacher's 105th birthday in Dwygyfylchi

Published date: 08 July 2017 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A RENOWNED pianist was special guest of honour when the teacher who provided the prelude to her glittering professional career celebrated her 105th birthday.

Annette Bryn Parri, who has accompanied opera stars such as Sir Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans and Jason Howard, was just 11 years old when she turned up at the home of Rhianon Gabrielson in Dwygyfylchi near Penmaenmawr in the early 1970s for piano tuition.

Rhianon, who herself studied at one of the country’s leading music colleges, was at first unsure about taking on a new pupil as her husband was unwell but relented when she heard the quality of the little girl’s playing.

They were pupil and teacher for the next seven years and have kept closely in touch ever since. Annette became Rhianon’s official advocate when she moved into full-time care 11 years ago.

The former star pupil makes frequent visits to The Gables specialist dementia care home in Penmaenmawr where she plays the piano for her beloved musical mentor.
Rhianon was born in the village of Trefriw near Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley in 1912 – the same years that saw the sinking of the Titanic, 

After attending local schools her talent at the piano saw her going on to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

She later taught music at a private school in Hastings before returning home to teach at a private school near Abergele.

Rhianon was married twice but had no children and her second husband died in the late 1970s.

At various times she lived in Llanrwst and Colwyn Bay before returning to Penmaenmawr.

For the last 11 years she has been a resident at The Gables.

Annette, who became a piano tutor after achieving her BA and B MUS Degrees, and still lives in Deiniolen near Llanberis where she grew up, said: “At first I had lessons with a teacher near my home but after a few years my parents and I realised I needed to be taught to a higher level to enable me to pass exams.

“Rhianon was recommended to us by another teacher, the late R Davy Jones, so at the age of 11 in 1973 I went to her home near Penmaenmawr.”

Annette went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Marjorie Clementi, and, as well as being an accomplished solo performer in her own right, has accompanied the likes of Sir Bryn Terfel, Aled Jones and Rebecca Evans.

She said: “I owe Rhianon so much. Throughout my career I have kept in touch with her and she often accompanied me to my concerts.

“She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when she was 94 but was still playing the piano until then. 

“She was there for me when I needed her most, so of course I am there for her now.
“I visit her often at The Gables where I am her official advocate as she has no close family.

“She still says my name when I visit her and I hope she knows I’ll always be there for her.

“I can never thank her enough.”

Sara Taylor, manager of The Gables, said: “It’s fantastic to see the love between the two of them, which was obvious when Annette was guest of honour at Rhianon’s 105th birthday party and everyone has a great time with cards and presents.”

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