Celebrity Christmas Gala at Kings Place 2016

Yesterday I spent a thoroughly enjoyable morning at Kings Place (a hub for the arts near Kings Cross Station in London), soaking up a Christmas Gala concert with a difference. I don’t write many reviews (you’ll already know that if you are a regular reader of this piano blog), and I rarely go to concerts (just too busy with my work, sadly), but I wanted to write a few words regarding the value of concerts such as this one.

Organised by British concert pianist Lucy Parham and agent extraordinaire, Lisa Peacock, Lucy Parham & Friends consisted entirely of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s (1843 -1907) piano music, focusing on his Lyric Pieces (Lyric Suite Op. 54). At first glance, this might seem a fairly standard concert with conventional repertoire, but a ‘typical’ recital this was not. The programme featured a raft of celebrity amateur pianists, all playing for fun and for the love of music.

Lucy Parham, Sarah Walker, Oliver Condy & David Pickard playing In the Hall of the Mountain King

Lucy Parham, Sarah Walker, Oliver Condy & David Pickard playing In the Hall of the Mountain King

There’s no doubt this concept transformed the ‘traditional concert’ into a wonderfully inspiring, innovative event. Introduced by charismatic BBC Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty (who interviewed every performer before their performance), a group of fourteen pianists, who make their living doing something totally different, braved a fairly discerning, but sympathetic audience to play one or two works. Overcoming nerves is an issue for many professionals, therefore to witness those who aren’t professionals playing with confidence and clear enjoyment, was splendid.

The line up included; Sarah Walker (BBC Radio 3 presenter), Edward Fox (actor), Oliver Condy (editor of the BBC Music Magazine), Alan Rusbridger (journalist and Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford), Sophie Raworth (presenter of the BBC news and other programmes), David Pickard (Director of the BBC Proms), Conrad Williams (writer), William Sharman (athlete), Myleene Klass (radio & TV presenter), Peter Fincham (TV producer and executive), Alistair McGowan (impressionist, comedian, and actor), Stephen Boxer (actor) and Cathy Newman (Channel 4 news presenter and journalist). Some had played for a few years, whilst others had been learning since childhood, and one or two had only been practising a few months. Duets and solos cascaded between two model D Steinways which dominated the stage of Hall One.

Alistair McGowan plays Grieg's Notturno Op. 54. N0 4

Alistair McGowan plays Grieg’s Notturno Op. 54. N0 4

Repertoire included a delicious selection of Grieg favourites such as Morning (Peer Gynt), Arietta Op. 12 N0.1, Puck Op. 71, No. 3, and March of the Dwarfs Op. 54 No. 3, to less familiar pieces such as the beautiful Notturno Op. 54 No. 4. Observing those who are famous in their chosen fields, tackle piano works of considerable difficulty, and move completely out of their comfort zone, was fascinating, and I appreciated the dedication, care and genuine enthusiasm for the instrument, which was displayed by every performer.

Myleene Klass & Peter Fincham play Anitra's Dance Op. 23

Myleene Klass & Peter Fincham play Anitra’s Dance Op. 23

Concerts such as this not only provide a superb platform for those with a desire to improve their playing (I guarantee all performers will have found the experience musically beneficial, even if they were terrified!), but they also highlight classical music, and in particular, the piano. In a climate where instrumental tuition is seriously declining (and generally underfunded), and music study is progressively sidelined in our schools, such interest is heartening and of great importance.

The concert ended with a rousing account of In the Hall of the Mountain King arranged for two pianos, and four pianists (eight hands), played by Lucy Parham, Sarah Walker, Oliver Condy and David Pickard.

Lucy continues her highly successful series of Word/Play concerts (this is her fifth season at Kings Place), on Sunday 8th January 2017 with The Fox Family & Richard Sisson performing The Tales of Beatrix Potter. There are five concerts in this series and you can find out much more here. I interviewed Lucy a few years ago as part of my Classical Conversations Series, and you can enjoy our chat by clicking on the link here.


My Publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of 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.


 

Great Piano Composers of the Classical Era

iPad Great Composers

Pianist Magazine’s extra edition, Great Piano Composers of the Classical Era, is out NOW! I’ve blogged about it recently and you can read the post with all the relevant information here.

Purchase the digital version (pictured above) here, and from today, it’s also available to buy on the UK newsstand, in over 400 WH Smiths and specialist shops such as Yamaha Music London, Selfridges etc. You can also order the hard copy edition here.

With all your favourite features, such as 40 pages of sheet music and cover CD, five ‘how-to-play’ lessons, and two master classes from the experts, plus many specialist articles focusing on music and pianos of the Classical Era, you won’t want to miss out on this extra issue. Enjoy!

www.pianistmagazine.com

NEW Great Composers


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of 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.


An Exciting New Concert Series Launched by Rhinegold Publishing

Here is a great new series of concerts which are taking place throughout the year and are to be held at London’s Conway Hall, WC1. This free series aims to bring music to all, removing the barriers to classical music and offering a unique take on the classical recital experience. Each concert will be followed by a Q&A with the artist and a complimentary drinks reception.

Event Manager, Louise Greener says: “We’ve taken away the stage so the audience can get up close with the artist in-the-round and discover new and interesting repertoire from a breathtakingly close vantage point. It’s about presenting the absolute joy of live music in an informal, sociable and intimate light.”

“The Q&A which follows each recital will bring the programme notes to life, and find out why the artist has chosen the repertoire, what it means to them, how it fits in to their life story and the challenges they face in performing the music; in short we’re bringing the types of interviews we would usually conduct in the magazine off the page and in to the concert hall, in the context of a real life recital. So it’s very much a case of ‘here’s the artist, here’s the music, and here’s the meaning behind it all’.”

One of the inaugural artists, Julian Lloyd Webber says: “We are delighted to be the first musicians in this new ‘rush hour’ series. These are exactly the kind of initiatives needed to bring new audiences to classical music. It will be a very informal concert and we will introduce all the music as we go along.”

Despite a backdrop of funding cuts and uncertainty, and in a period of increasing pressure to justify the value of the arts, Rhinegold Publishing is launching this new series simply because it believes that fine musicians playing wonderful music should be within reach of all.

Rhinegold seeks to provide a uniquely personal experience, where leading artists choose their own repertoire and talk with the audience to explain why the pieces have been chosen, and the meaning behind their interpretation.

“Live classical music is too often a remote and impersonal experience”, says Rhinegold Publishing’s managing director Ciaran Morton, adding “we seek to humanise and personalise the recital experience, enlightening and welcoming a new audience while delivering artistically to our existing readers. I believe this new concert series is a logical extension of all the good work Rhinegold has done for the classical music sector over the years.”

There will be six concerts per year and the first Rhinegold LIVE artists will be cellists Julian & Jiaxin Lloyd Webber and their accompanist Pam Chowhan, who will perform on April 3rd 2014 at 6.30pm (concert starts at 7.15). Together they present a brand-new concert featuring world premiere performances of duets for two cellos with piano as well as featuring music from the great composers across the classical spectrum from Vivaldi to Arvo Pärt, Dvořák, Bach, Rachmaninov, Saint-Saëns, and many more. The Q&A will be conducted by Keith Clarke, Consultant Editor of Classical Music magazine.

The second concert of the season features renowned conductor Andrew Litton, who returns to his first love – the piano – for this very special recital. Based on scores transcribed by fellow pianist Steven Osborne, the programme spans four decades of Oscar Peterson’s legacy and launches Andrew’s forthcoming CD release, A Tribute to Oscar Peterson. The concert will be held on Monday June 2nd 2014 at 6.30pm. The Q&A will be conducted by Claire Jackson, Editor of International Piano magazine.

Tickets

Audience-members can register for their free ticket at http://www.rhinegoldlive.co.uk. Each free ticket includes a complimentary drink at the reception. There are 150 tickets available to the public for each concert, and tickets and seats are allocated on a first-come first-serve basis.

Conway Hall, Red Lion Square

Image Link

My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of 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.


 

Piano Talk with Noriko Ogawa: Part 1

Japanese concert pianist has already been kind enough to take part in my Classical Conversations Series and you can enjoy the interview here. However, we decided to meet again and chat more about several subjects. In Part 1 of this two part interview which was filmed at Steinway Hall in London, we talk about the best ways to start to learn the piano, focusing on my book, So You Want To Play The Piano?

Noriko Ogawa has achieved considerable renown throughout the world since her success at the 1987 Leeds International Piano Competition. Ogawa’s ‘ravishingly poetic playing’ (Telegraph) sets her apart from her contemporaries and acclaim for her complete Debussy series with BIS Records confirms her as a fine Debussy specialist.

Ogawa appears with all the major European, Japanese and US orchestras. She has been appointed Artist in Residence to Bridgewater Hall in Manchester where she will be Artistic Director for the Reflections on Debussy festival, hosted by BBC Philharmonic and Bridgewater Hall from January-June 2012. With the recent completion of the Debussy series, Ogawa completed recording a new Mozart disc for BIS Records in 2011. With her wonderful dynamic range and colour palate, Ogawa’s particular affinities also range from the works of Takemitsu, through the larger Romantic composers such as Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, to contemporary concerti commissioned from Graham Fitkin and Dai Fujikura.

Ogawa is also renowned as a recitalist and chamber musician. Notable chamber projects include a tour of Japan with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Ensemble and the leader of the Vienna Philharmonic, Rainer Honeck. In 2001 Ogawa and Kathryn Stott launched their piano duo and have since toured in Japan and given premieres of Graham Fitkin’s double piano concerto Circuit, including the world premiere at Bridgewater Hall. She has also collaborated with Steven Isserlis, Isabelle van Keulen, Martin Roscoe, Michael Collins and Peter Donohoe.

An advocate of commissioning, Ogawa has been involved in numerous premieres. Her current commission is a ground-breaking series of recital pieces from Yoshihiro Kanno which feature the piano alongside various traditional Japanese instruments or sounds; the first for Nambu bell and piano Hikari no Ryushi (A Particle of Light), followed by Mizu no Ryushi (A Particle of Water) for metal chopsticks and piano, Niji no ryushi (A Particle of Rainbow) for piano and Kabuki Orgel and finally Sora no meiro (Sky Maze) for organ and piano.

Alongside performing and recording for BIS, Ogawa is sought-after for presenting, both on the radio and on television, recently appearing on BBC Worldwide in ‘Visionaries’ as an advocate for Takemitsu and in programmes for NHK and Nippon Television. As an adjudicator, she regularly judges the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, Honens International Piano Competition and the Scottish International Piano Competition.

In Japan, Ogawa acts as artistic advisor to the MUZA Kawasaki Symphony Hall in her hometown. In 1999, the Japanese Ministry of Education awarded her their Art Prize in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the cultural profile of Japan throughout the world and she has also been awarded the Okura Prize for her outstanding contribution to music in Japan. As a writer, Ogawa has completed her first book (published in Japan) and is currently working on a Japanese translation of Susan Tomes’s book Out of Silence – a pianist’s yearbook.

Ogawa is passionate about charity work, particularly after the earthquake and tsunami which devastated Japan in early 2011. Since the earthquake she has raised over £20,000 for the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Fund and is keen to keep fundraising, also working with the Japan Society through 2012. Ogawa also founded Jamie’s Concerts a series for autistic children and parents.

Ogawa lives with her partner Philip and their cat Tama. When not practising she enjoys writing and cooking for friends.

www.norikoogawa.co.uk

Noriko in action…..


My publications:

For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my two-book piano course, Play it again: PIANO (Schott). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, 49 progressive pieces from approximately Grade 1 – 8 level are featured, with at least two pages of 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.