It's not every day that London concert-goers can see the great violinist Ida Haendel in action, let alone for free. But on 9 December, Haendel, the doyenne of the violin world, will be at the Wigmore Hall first to give masterclasses to the young musicians of the Razumovsky Academy, and the same evening to perform in the associated concert.
The Razumovsky Trust is sponsoring the event, and admission will be free to encourage as many people as possible to experience this unique occasion. The event has come together at such short notice that it seems virtually miraculous.
However, Oleg Kogan, the founder and director of the Razumovsky Ensemble and Academy, has already worked near-miracles with his organisation. He envisaged a new model for musical education for exceptionally talented youngsters, who currently include newcomers such as the violinist Anna-Liisa Bezrodny; and he went on to win the hearts and wallets of some of the UK's heaviest-weight musical philanthropists to back the scheme.
Haendel is the latest distinguished figure to lend her authority to the project. She planned to come to London to give the masterclasses at a venue in Kensington, but when it emerged that the Wigmore Hall would be free due to a late cancellation, everything fell into place. "She prefers not to tell us what she will play in the concert, as it will be more of a surprise," says Kogan, whose Razumovsky Ensemble will be performing at the Wigmore the night before.
Haendel, born in Poland, studied with the famous pedagogue Carl Flesch in London before the Second World War. She is the last survivor of a musical "golden age" that has remained unparalleled. To those in the know she has a status that is almost saintly. She visits the UK only very occasionally, so don't miss the chance to hear her.
Ida Haendel gives masterclasses for the Razumovsky Academy (3pm) and performs in the students' concert (7pm), at the Wigmore Hall, London W1 (020-7935 2141), on 9 December