Pianist prepares for Proms premiere with scales, finger exercises – and kung fu
4 September 2014
Andreas Haefliger has revealed that he practised kung fu ahead of his performance of a new concerto by Zhou Long at the Proms.
The centrepiece of Prom 61 on 2 September was the European premiere of Postures for piano and orchestra, written by Zhou Long and performed by Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, under the guiding hand of conductor Lan Shui. The composer, who was in the audience, wrote in the programme notes that he considers the piano ‘a rhythmic and hammered instrument’ and that Postures ‘reflects the movements of some animal gestures in kung fu’.
In an interview with IP, due to be published early next year, Haefliger revealed that his preparations for performing the work even included studying kung fu. This research enabled him to immerse himself in the rhythmic gestures that are vital to this music, particularly in the first movement, ‘Pianodance’, which uses a form of shaman dance from northeast China.
Postures demands a highly physical performance from the soloist. In the second movement, ‘Pianobells’, the pianist must strike the low strings inside the belly of the instrument, recalling the timbre of Chinese bells. The percussive writing reaches its zenith in the third and final movement, which reflects the Monkey King character of Peking Opera. Haefliger moved easily between the pianistic components to give a convincing performance.
This was one of the most exciting new piano concertos to be showcased in recent years and Long’s writing creatively aligns traditional elements with contemporary colour. After recent accusations that the BBC is editing out new music from Proms on television it is a shame to discover that this work is not slated for broadcast either. Happily, is it available to listen to via iPlayer for the following four weeks.
Apply now for the International German Piano Award
4 September 2014
Misha Namirovski won the prestigious prize earlier this year
The deadline for applications for the annual International German Piano Award is fast approaching, with the final cut off set for 28 November.
The award is open to pianists of all nationalities and takes place 16-18 April 2015 in Frankfurt. The first prize includes €20,000 plus a concert with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. There is also an audience prize of €2,000, plus a reward from Montblanc.
This year marks the competition’s fifth anniversary. Pianists are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, see here for more details.
This year’s winner was Misha Namirovski (pictured). Previous laureates include Amir Tebenikhin, Lukas Geniusas and Dmitri Levkovich.
The purpose of the International German Piano Award is to support artists who have an outstanding artistic expression. The association assists with concert schedules, the production of recordings, websites and marketing materials.
German-speaking readers may want to sign up for the organisation’s International Piano Forum newsletter to find out more about the competition and its ancillary events.
Music Education Expo now open for registration
3 September 2014
The Music Education Expo, the UK’s leading exhibition for music educators, is now open for registration. The third instalment of the annual conference takes place 12-13 March 2015 at Barbican Exhibition Hall 2 in London. The two-day event is expected to welcome around 2,500 visitors and over 100 exhibiting companies. Prospective visitors are encouraged to sign up for free tickets here.
The Music Education Expo brings music educators from across the country and beyond to share ideas and meet like-minded professionals. A variety of instruments will be on display, including pianos from Schimmel and Steinway.
Organisers are currently accepting proposals for seminars and workshops at the 2015 event. If you have a proposal, please send it to Thomas Lydon, editor of Music Teacher magazine and the Expo’s head of content, by 18 September. Thomas can be reached via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music Education Expo is organised by Rhinegold Media & Events Ltd and supported by Music Teacher magazine. Rhinegold Media & Events, along with Music Education Expo and the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, also organises Rhinegold LIVE, a series of free concerts at London’s Conway Hall.
Rare instruments for sale at Conway Hall Piano Auction
3 September 2014
Two rare fortepianos will be among the instruments on sale at an auction at London’s Conway Hall later this month.
The first, a 7ft 7in Clementi forte grand in a mahogany and banded case on a trestle base, is expected to fetch between £6,000 and £8,000. The second, a five-octave forte grand Broadwood from about 1787, is expected to sell for up to £15,000.
The sale will be hosted by Piano Auctions, which holds quarterly events in the 1929 art-deco Conway Hall. The hall, which seats 300 downstairs and 180 in the gallery, also hosts IP’s Rhinegold Live recital series.
At Piano Auctions’ last sale, held in June, six pianos were displayed on the stage and a further 115 were on show in the hall and adjoining rooms. Ancient Bechsteins, Steinways and Blüthners crammed together in neat rows jostled for attention with their modern counterparts, including Yamahas and others.
There was also an unrestored 1792 Broadwood fortepiano, a Longman & Broderip square piano, an 1841 Pleyel and a rare Kolbe 1825 Viennese grand, among other treasures. There were even 16 piano stools on sale.
Only 17 pianos were not sold, including the small number in the £20,000-plus bracket (the Kolbe went for £19,000, the highest price of the day). For those on a budget, there were some real bargains – uprights for well under £1,000 and good 5’5” grands for under £2,500.
The next sale is on 25 September. Viewing takes place on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the Thursday sale. For any buyers with questions about the instruments, expert advice will be on hand. Prospective buyers should note that there is a buyer’s premium of 20 per cent on top of the realised price.
REVIEW: Jools Holland, Kew the music, London
31 July 2014
Brothers Jools and Christopher HollandPhoto by David Tickle at 255 Photography © Helicon Mountain Ltd
Photo by David Tickle at 255 Photography © Helicon Mountain Ltd
Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
Kew the music, Kew Gardens, London
‘The sun is going now so it’s time for some blues,’ calls Jools Holland from the stage outside Kew Palace, London. Picnickers abandon half-eaten sandwiches and get to their feet, as Holland picks out a plaintive melody.
Outdoor concerts in the UK are fraught with difficulties thanks to our ordinarily inclement weather. However, the organisers of Kew the Music – the five-day festival held at Kew Gardens, London – must have breathed a sigh of relief when the Met Office reports for July were revealed. The balmy evening set a jovial tone – despite Holland’s appeals to the contrary.
Holland – sometimes perched on a Jackson Pollock-styled stool, but frequently standing – plays a digital piano (a Yamaha GT7 GranTouch, in case anyone’s interested). Ever the showman, he presents from the keyboard, slipping easily between speech and song. An eclectic mix of vocalists appear – soul songstress Ruby Turner impresses, former Soft Cell artist Marc Almond does not – but it is fellow pianist and sibling Christopher Holland who is his most interesting collaborator. The Hollands squeeze together at the grand piano, flitting between three- and four-hand improvisations. Their timing is unerring, the percussive melodies transfixing.
Holland senior goes solo again, this time breaking into boogie-woogie. Talking over that famous left-hand beat, he doesn’t miss a note. Sheet music is strewn across the top of the piano, along with a discarded tambourine. He closes, as always, with Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later than You Think) bolstered by his excellent orchestra.