Keys and words collide as novel about piano prodigy is turned into a concert series
30 September 2013
Author Jessica Duchen reads from Alicia's Gift
Viv Mclean performs works from the novel
IP contributor Jessica Duchen will embark on an unusual book
tour this winter; her musically inspired novel, Alicia’s Gift, has been turned
into a concert.
The story follows the piano prodigy Alicia Bradley and her embattled parents from the revelation of her talent aged three through to her adulthood and her participation in the Leeds International Piano Competition.
This is not the first time Duchen has dabbled with words and music. Her novel Hungarian Dances was turned into a narrated concert to great acclaim, and the featured music is available on a dedicated CD on the Onyx label. Duchen is the author of four novels, biographies of Gabriel Fauré and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and writes for the Independent and many specialist magazines, including International Piano.
The Alicia’s Gift concert explores its heroine’s story
with the help of some of the music in her life, alternating a narrative based
on the book with a variety of engaging illustrative piano works, performed by
Viv McLean (piano winner of the Royal Over-seas League Music Competition, First Prize
at the 2002 Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona).
Alicia’s passion for Chopin is reflected in selections
ranging from the Third Ballade to the stormy Etude Op 25 No 12. Her emotional
growth is mirrored in the atmospheric worlds of Granados and Ravel, among
others. Her search for the perfect teacher carries her
through a roller coaster of Czerny, Debussy and Gershwin.
‘The idea of my concerts-of-the-novel is
that these performances should be more than just alternating words and music,’
explains Duchen. ‘The two must be so closely integrated in terms of
appropriateness and emotional content that they effectively unite in a
different form of storytelling that becomes a genre in its own right.
‘I’m not sure whose idea it was that we should end the concert with a piano duet. We’ve picked the final number of Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose’ Suite and I get to play the glissandi, which should be fun – at least, I hope so. Playing the piano in public terrifies me, so I’m not sure what I’m letting myself in for!’
Alicia’s Gift: The Concert of the Novel is premiered at the Musical Museum, Brentford, on 9 November
9 November 2013: Musical Museum, Brentford, near Kew Bridge
13 November 2013: Kensington & Chelsea Music Society, Leighton House, Holland Park, London W11
27 November 2013: Vernon Ellis Foundation, 49 Queen’s Gate Terrace, London SW7
8 December 2013, 3pm: St Mary’s, Perivale
15 December 2013: Burgh House, Hampstead, London NW3
18 January 2014: Soirées at Breinton, near Woking, Surrey
Win an advanced version of Pianoteq Pro worth nearly £500!
17 September 2013
Modartt’s Pianoteq is a forward-thinking virtual piano that offers a practical solution for discerning and tech-savvy pianist-composers. IP has teamed up with Modartt to offer one lucky reader the advanced version of the software – Pianoteq Pro – PLUS the piano add-ons: U4 upright, Blüthner Model 1 and YC5 Rock Piano, worth nearly £500.
According to its makers Modartt, Pianoteq is the world’s first ‘fourth generation’ piano, after the acoustic, electro-acoustic pianos and present-day sampled instruments where each note has been separately pre-recorded at different dynamic levels. Pianoteq relies on physical modelling with real time response – but at the same time, the entire package is only 20MB in size, making it economical in terms of space. You can use Pianoteq on any laptop and connect it to your MIDI compatible piano keyboard.
There’s the freedom to adjust multiple setting – from the tuning, shape of the soundboard, hammer hardness and damper control to the position of the lid and even the mic placement – as well as the facility to edit the parameters of each individual note, allowing for almost limitless variation.
To be in with a chance of winning the software, answer the following question:
In what year was Pianoteq first released?
Answers should be sent via email to email@example.com
with ‘Pianoteq giveaway’ in the subject line.
The competition closes 28 November. Good luck!
Yamaha announces piano selection sessions at London's Southbank Centre
16 September 2013
Following the success of the inaugural piano selection sessions last year, Yamaha has announced a second event to be held at London's Southbank Centre during 11–12 October.
The sessions are aimed at individuals and institutions interested in Yamaha's extensive high-end upright and grand piano ranges and allow people to book 45-minute slots to view and evaluate the latest instruments in privacy, while taking advice from leading technicians and piano specialists.
Over 40 pianos will be available – including the acclaimed Yamaha CFX concert grand, pictured – plus a wide range of Yamaha's CX series grand pianos. The CX range has been developed directly with the CFX and the pianos offer exceptional sound, durability and stability at a range of prices. The CFX and CX range will be augmented by Yamaha's professional YUS and SE Series upright series and the SU7 upright and CF series of handcrafted grand pianos. Many of the models are also available with Yamaha's SH silent technology allowing private 'silent' practice on headphones – these instruments will also be on display.
The selection weekend coincides with Yamaha's popular 'piano upgrade' initiative which offers private customers and institutions a guaranteed part-exchange value on their existing instrument, thus making a possible purchase more affordable.
The sessions will run between 9am and 7.30pm on both days. To find out more and to book your private session please email Craig.Hughes@gmx.yamaha.com or call 01908 369224.
BBC Radio 3 includes two pianists in latest line-up of New Generation Artists
10 September 2013
BBC Radio 3 has named pianists Louis Schwitzgebel and Zhang Zuo among its next batch of New Generation Artists.
The scheme, now in its fifteenth year, supports a group of
young artists via a series of BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, fronted by BBC Young
Musician of the Year presenter Clemency Burton-Hill. Previous participants
include Benjamin Grosvenor, Gwilym Simcock, Christian Ihle Hadland, Ashley Wass, Martin Helmchen and current IP cover artist Igor Levit.
Schwitzgebel secured second prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, where his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder in the final round was broadcast live on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3. At the age of 17 he was the winner of the Geneva International Music Competition.
Zhang Zuo (pictured) has garnered a host of awards, including first prizes at the 3rd Shanghai International Piano Competition, the 7th International Franz Liszt Piano Competition, and a ‘Vendome Virtuoso’ award from Vendome Prize competition. In 2013 she won fifth prize at the 2013 Queen Elisabeth International Piano Competition.
Martin Roscoe to perform the Beethoven piano concertos in one night for charity fundraiser
22 August 2013
Intrepid soloist Martin Roscoe© Eric Richmond
This October sees Martin Roscoe perform all five Beethoven Piano Concertos in a single evening, in aid of the Musicians Benevolent Fund. Conductor and organiser Daniel Parkinson explains why
About 18 months ago I came up with a idea for a charity fundraiser – to perform all five Beethoven Piano Concertos over two nights with five different pianists. I approached a couple of pianists with my idea. At this stage it was really only a concept and I wanted to do some research to see whether anyone would be interested in partaking in such an event. One of the pianists came back and suggested an alternative to the original idea: had I thought about doing all five concertos in one night, with one pianist? This person was none other than international concert pianist, Martin Roscoe. Sure, I thought it was a bit crackers – but – that’s me all over, and I pretty much said yes straight away.
Ever since then this event has been in the planning. I decided that the Musicians Benevolent Fund would be the recipient of the money we raised. The Musicians Benevolent Fund provide the highest quality help for musicians whenever they need it, with specialist programmes dedicated to supporting artists hit by crisis, life-changing circumstances or terminal illness, as well as those facing the challenges of growing old and emerging musicians entering the profession. The next thing was to create a brand. In some ways, putting on something like this is just the same as starting a company. I knew that the brand was going to be very important – you have to catch people’s attention. The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project was what I came up with. As some paint brand or other regularly states: it does what it says on the tin!
With the organisation well under way and a fantastic venue in the shape of the RNCM Concert Hall booked, it became apparent that with the scale of the event, we needed someone to host the evening and to act as a thread across all three parts. John Suchet immediately sprung to mind. Not only is John a high profile presenter for Classic FM, but he is also a Beethoven expert, having written several books on the composer and I was absolutely delighted when John agreed to be part of the project. The orchestra will be made up of past and present students of the RNCM – many have been helped by the Musicians Benevolent Fund and are doing their bit to give something back. We will be starting the first of three parts at 5pm, with the event finishing about 10pm! It is quite a marathon for all involved – but we are all there for one single reason – to raise money for a fantastic charity. It certainly promises to be an unforgettable evening of great music and we hope to see as many people there as possible!
The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project
RNCM Concerto Hall, 5 October
Part One: 5pm
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.1
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.2
Part Two: 7pm
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.4
Part Three: 9pm
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.5
Martin Roscoe, Piano
Daniel Parkinson, Conductor
John Suchet, Presenter
Tickets from £12