Sundays at Four Facebook Page

by Heidi Bloch
May 25, 2016

Outstanding Recital by the Young Steinway Artist, Rebecca Willett, May 22 at Christ Episcopal Church, Smithfield. Artistic Director, Sundays at Four, Heidi Bloch wrote: Sundays at Four performances are always memorable, but Smithfield’s classical music presence finds Solo Youth Recitalists, teenagers all, who are exceptional, home-grown, and beyond fabulous. Poised, self-confident, and gracious, 22-year-old Rebecca Willett, already a local superstar who just graduated from the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music, will continue Master’s studies this fall at the Cincinnati Conservatory with the iconoclastic pianist, Awadagin Pratt.

Her recital (all by memory of course) and played with finesse and maturity, included an elegant rendering of a Bach Suite, a Beethoven sonata with each movement’s changing moods solidly thought-out and delivered, several works by Frederik Chopin, and a Brahms Scherzo. Rebecca’s early Suzuki piano training is evident. She plays with no obvious tension--- soft hands and balletic movement. She always acknowledges the teachers who influenced her from a young age, such as Suzanne Guy, her wonderful local teacher, and in particular, Ignat Solzhenitsyn with whom she studied while in high school, involving regular travel to NYC to study with him.

Rebecca will spend six weeks this summer at a favorite summer music camp in Maine, along with her younger sister, Eliza, a violinist. All three Willett daughters are musically talented. Eliza will be one of six talented teens on the annual Sundays at Four Terrific Teen Talent, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, August 7, beginning at 4 p.m. at historic Christ Episcopal Church in Smithfield’s Historic District. There isn’t a better way to spend a drizzly Sunday afternoon, or any afternoon, than in the presence of dedicated young musicians. The future of serious music is not in jeopardy with the caliber musicians that Sundays at Four board members find year after year.


The Virginian-Pilot

By Eric Feber
© August 2, 2009

The annual Smithfield Performance Series will showcase "terrific teens" Sunday as a musical "extra" in its yearly Sundays at Four concert series.

"Terrific Teen Talent" will feature eight musicians from around the region starting at 4 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church - host of the series' performances - at 111 S. Church St. The inaugural "Terrific Teens" concert took place last year.

"We had standing room only," said Mary Cole, a member of the Smithfield Performance Series' board. "In fact, we had a larger crowd than for any of our other concerts." A concert featuring talented teens was the brainchild of Heidi Bloch, organist/music director at Christ Episcopal and artistic music director of the Sundays at Four concert series, Cole said.

"She thought it would be nice to provide a performance opportunity for students," Cole explained. "She selected all students who have won awards or achieved at their talent."

Here is a glance at the eight featured "Terrific Teens":

Logan Stambaugh, 15, Smithfield. Logan, who began playing when he was 9, studies jazz and classical guitar at the prestigious Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk.

Jarad Ford, 18, Smithfield. Jarad is a skilled saxophonist adept at both jazz and gospel. He will major in music at Hampton University this fall on a partial music scholarship where he intends to perform with the school's marching band, The Force, and with several of the university's ensembles. While at college, he will also be a member of the Pirates' golf team.

Richard Freeman, 12, Newport News. Richard has been playing piano since he was a three-year-old able to perform variations of "Amazing Grace" on a kiddie keyboard. He began studying in the Suzuki Method in New Orleans, and is now under the tutelage of Heidi Bloch.

Madison Bunch, 16, Virginia Beach. She studies flute with the Governor's School for the Arts and for the past four years has been a member of the Bay Youth Orchestras, also based in Norfolk. She is also an adept piano and handbell performer.

Rebecca Willett, 14, Virginia Beach. Rebecca began studying piano at 4 and violin since she was 7. She is a violinist with the Bay Youth Orchestras, where she served as concertmaster and was named Outstanding Musician for its Concert Orchestra in 2007. As a pianist she was a soloist in the Virginia Symphony's Young Artists Showcase and, after winning first place in the Richmond Symphony League's Young Artist Concerto Competition, was able to perform with the capital's symphony orchestra in April.

Annika Jenkins, 15, Virginia Beach. Annika made her solo violin debut at 11, playing Mozart with the Virginia Beach Symphony, now Symphonicity. She has earned first-prize awards at a number of regional, district and state competitions. She has performed in master classes at the Juilliard School, Philadelphia Orchestra and Eastman School of Music.

Lauren McKinley, 18, Norfolk, was a member of the Virginia Children's Chorus where she soloed twice with the Virginia Symphony. The Hampton Roads Academy graduate has participated in the Virginia Chorale's Young Singers Project and the All-Virginia High School Chorus. She has performed in many school, community and regional musicals, productions and dramas. She will study at the Boston Conservatory in the fall.

Nathan Jentink, 18, Suffolk. Nathan, who just graduated from the Governor's School for the Arts, will major in musical theater at Florida State University in the fall. He appeared in the Virginia Musical Theater's "West Side Story," along with an array of musical productions with the Governor's School. The tenor is a performer onboard the cruise ship Spirit of Norfolk.

Sunday's teen concert will feature world-class performances, Cole promises music lovers. "It is expected to be a fine concert showcasing some amazing local musical talent."

Eric Feber, 222-5203, 

Christ Church Courier
Smithfield, Virginia
January 2010 NUARY 2010

Terrific Teen Returns to Perform Solo Recital

Last summer 15 year-old pianist Rebecca Willett of Virginia Beach wowed the Sundays at Four Terrific Teen concert audience by accompanying an outstanding flutist and then playing her own virtuoso number.

At the invitation of the Sundays at Four Board of Directors the gifted artist is returning
to Smithfield to perform a solo piano recital. The concert will be held at Trinity Methodist Church at 3:00 PM on Sunday, January 24th.

Rebecca Willett began her music education with piano at age 4 and violin at age 7. Rebecca has been blessed to have been a student of gifted teachers: Melody Diehl, Anne Bugg, Dr. Jeffrey Brown. As a violinist, she studies and performs solo and chamber repertoire and has been a member of the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia for 6 years. She currently serves as the associate concertmaster of
the Symphony Orchestra.

As a pianist, Rebecca has performed as a soloist in the Virginia Symphony’sYoung Artist Showcase numerous times, since the age of 10. She was also chosen to perform in 10-Piano Concerts in Sacramento, California and Matsumoto, Japan.

She has spent many of her summer weeks furthering her music studies at violin and piano institutes and camps, including the prestigious Southeastern Piano Festival and the International Institute for Young Musicians. Rebecca won
first prize in the Richmond Symphony League’s Young Artist Concerto Competition Piano Division and performed Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in g minor with the Richmond Symphony in April 2009.

Rebecca’s ambitious program will include pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Muczynski, Chopin and Debussy. 

Teriffic teens' will strut music stuff this Sunday
Gigya Sharebar

What “Terrific Teen Talent” Sundays at Four concert series
When 4 p.m. Sunday 
Where Christ Episcopal Church, 111 S. Church St., Smithfield
Cost $20 adults, $10 students
More info For more details about Sunday’s concert or the 2009-10 Sundays at Four series, call 375-9140. 

The Experience, Aventa Magazine September 2011, Featured Articles, Student Features  

The Refined Rebecca Willett

By Lexie Shaye   Wed, Aug 10, 2011

Meet Rebecca Willett: Piano extraordinaire! Read about more than Rebecca's amazing talent as our own Lexie Shaye provides insight on the life, aspirations, and experiences of this amazing student!

Supported by her entire family, Rebecca Willet, age sixteen, is piano extraordinaire who lives with her mother, father, two younger sisters, and many of her loving pets in Virginia Beach, Virginia, an extremely close distance to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. She enjoys playing her violin, entering in swimming competitions, playing the piano for her entire church, along with participating in plenty of youth group activities and reading. She began her role playing the piano at the young age of four! Her first solo recital was way back in the summer of 2006, performing pieces by Paderewski, Mozart, and Chopin. However, her very first performance was in May, 1999 playing an old folk song, called “Cuckoo”.

Rebecca’s whole family motivates her life choices, but her biggest inspiration is her marvelous teacher, Ignat Solzhenitsyn. Ten years from now, Rebecca Willet sees herself graduated from a major university and starting her fabulous adventure as a famous piano soloist, perhaps living in a big city.

The greatest rush of performing to her is getting up on the stage and knowing that her audience is there to support her, and to hear her beautiful music. She also experiences a rush of different emotions throughout her performances, like the nerves before, the joy during, and the excitement and thrill after she has taken her final bows.  These moments,  perhaps more than anything else, will soon make her dream of being a traveling solo pianist come true! 

By Lexie Shaye



Rebecca Willett, piano