Marathon pianist ends on a triumphant note

Tired, but triumphant, teenager Calum Grewar has successfully completed a 24-hour piano marathon and won himself a place in the record books.

The sixth-year student of Madras College in St Andrews took up the challege of the gruelling solo performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations - without stopping - as a fundraiser for a planned year-long teaching stint in Guyana with the charity, Project Trust, and hit on the novel idea.

The endurance test - it began in the music building at Madras College on Saturday at noon - was almost derailed after Calum contracted the dreaded novovirus winter vomiting bug a couple of days earlier. However, he recovered sufficiently to tackle the marathon music test.

Calum, who is studying music at Advanced Higher level, told the Citizen: ‘‘It was a resounding success. There was a constant stream of my friends with me for the first 12 hours. However, at around 12.30am they left to go to bed.

“This is when the hard hours began. I was feeling alright until about 5am, when fatigue really hit me. I could barely keep my eyes open, and the end had never seemed farther away.

“Being a Sunday, the shops didn’t open for a while, so I was famished, as well as tired. But, after I had a sausage sandwich and a couple of friends came in to visit, I perked up.

“Then, the hours flew by, and by the end around 30 or 40 people must have been in the room supporting and cheering, as well as over 40 watching online.


“It certainly was emotional, both my parents were crying, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I managed to complete the challenge without stopping, which makes it a full, legitimate performance of Satie’s piece, which was particularly important for me.”

Calum is the first person in Britain to complete the Satie challenge - and also the youngest in the world ever to do so. Satie wrote for the theme and its two variations to be “played in succession 840 times,” which lasts around 24 hours.

Thanks to sponsorship, Calum was able to raise £1500 through the event towards his required target of £5100 to take part in the one-year project in Guyana - it is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America - where he will be working in the jungle teaching children.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by accessing where further information is available.