My interview series, Classical Conversations, celebrates its second Anniversary today. I have interviewed thirty-nine eminent pianists and pedagogues on camera to date (number thirty-eight will be published later this week), and it has been such an interesting project. To mark the occasion The Music Teacher Magazine (published by Rhinegold) have very kindly featured my Series in their November edition, which is a celebration of the piano (see the photo above). The article focuses on just three pianists from the series (all Leeds Piano Competition prize winners; Noriko Ogawa, Artur Pizarro and Federico Colli), by publishing sections of their interview transcripts, where they mention their musical training, teachers and education.
I always ask fairly similar questions throughout the series, but the answers have been fascinating; completely diverse and eclectic. I’m eternally grateful to my first guest, Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who on a cold, rainy day in Cardiff freely gave her time to chat, just prior to going on stage for a performance of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto in C minor Op. 18 at the Millennium Centre. You can watch this interview by clicking on the link below; it has already accumulated nearly 43,000 views on YouTube. Since then, the Series has become increasingly popular and I’ve had the good fortune to interview many of the world’s greatest concert pianists and teachers.
I hope my interviews establish the connection between the sometimes rather isolated figure on stage and the human being behind the musical mask. This is why speaking to each pianist in person on film is crucial, as it’s the best way of capturing their individual personalities and immediate responses to the questions (although I always send my proposed questions before the interview!). This series also appears to be a fairly unique concept, as there are few other collections of filmed interviews focusing purely on concert pianists. I’ve learnt so much from speaking to every pianist, and it has been a great privilege and pleasure to meet them all.
Most of the interviews have been filmed at establishments: Steinway Hall and Jaques Samuel Pianos have been popular, and I thank them for always granting permission to film. I also travel to artist’s homes, the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Wigmore Hall too. Constantly changing the venue provides much-needed variety.
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.