Royal recital fond memory for pianist

Pianist Terence Dennis holds a photograph of the event in 2012 when he and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa...
Pianist Terence Dennis holds a photograph of the event in 2012 when he and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa performed for Prince Philip at Frogmore House. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.

Getting to use a royal sitting room, complete with Queen Victoria’s grand piano, as a dressing room was a slightly unusual experience for Terence Dennis.

The University of Otago professor had that honour when he was invited to perform for the Duke of Edinburgh at Frogmore House, a royal residence at Windsor, in 2012.

Prof Dennis was the pianist for Dame Kiri Te Kanawa at the time, and Prince Philip asked her to present a recital for a showcase he was hosting for the Outward Bound Trust.

"She thought it would be lovely if I could do this concert with her, representing New Zealand.

"It was lovely."

He and Dame Kiri had 20 minutes to chat with the Duke before the concert and he asked questions about New Zealand and about their work.

"He was just very pleasant and very chatty, and full of wit, really.

"Full of fine conversation, very interested in what you were doing."

He did get a slight shock when he realised his dressing room had in fact been the sitting room for Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.

Queen Victoria’s grand piano was still in the room.

"That was something else, extraordinary."

A few years later, Prof Dennis performed for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at a reception in Auckland.

Prof Dennis remembered his meeting with Prince Philip fondly, following his death last week at age 99.

"I still have the bottle of royal Champagne that was given to me that night.

"I think I’ll keep that as an artefact."

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