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