Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?
To take it up: I did so twice, aged 5 and 7 with a short break in between. Second time around I was intrigued by a harpsichord at my eventual teacher Heather Slade-Lipkin’s house (her son was a school friend). She suggested a lesson, and carried on teaching me brilliantly for ten years.
To make it a career: Chetham’s School – the people there, and the place.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Early ones – my mother, who sent me to Chetham’s when she was receiving a lot of advice not to. Plus Olivier Messiaen, whom I was lucky enough to see just once in Huddersfield in 1989. Tim Horton played Messiaen’s Ile de Feu 1 to me when we were 10(!), and I immediately thought “This is what a piano is made to do”. Thanks Tim. Daniel Harding woke me up to the fact that other music was also good.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Playing Beethoven in Tokyo. Starting out.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Performances: Stockhausen Mantra and Laurence Crane Ethiopian Distance Runners, both in the last few years at King’s Place 2.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Messiaen ‘Le Traquet Stapazin’. Tippett’s song ‘Compassion’. You said “think”.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
New things appear all the time, not really on a seasonal basis
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
At the moment, Kettle’s Yard Cambridge. The audience.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
To perform: the music that, while you’re performing it, makes the rest of life seem like gaps in between performances: Violin Sonatas by Ravel, Walton, Prokofiev 1st, Messiaen Quatour. To listen: many! First movement of Mahler 7 (for the long melody in the middle) is a major indulgence. Britten Hymn to St Cecilia.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The first that spring to mind: hearing Michael Finnissy play English Country Tunes in 2006. A very fine performance of Messiaen La Transfiguration (2008) where I sat behind George Benjamin and saw how moved he seemed by his teacher’s music.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Accentuate the positives. Smell the roses. Artistry is not necessarily individuality. Perform as much as you can.
You will be performing Jim Aitchison’s new work ‘Portraits for a Study’. Tell us a little more about the particular challenges and excitements of this collaboration and the unusual circumstances of its performance using Yamaha’s Disklavier piano?
It’s often beautiful and sometimes quite awesome music, and I’m thrilled to be giving the first performance. Jim, I think, spent a long time considering how to respond to Richter before starting to write, and it’s proof that some profound links can be found between music and the visual arts if you do that.
I’ll play a Disklavier in Falmouth, which will be transmitted by internet to various venues in London (Goldsmith’s, Chappell’s, RAM) and the audiences there will be treated to an apparently playerless piano. The challenge is having the confidence that more subtle aspects of playing are going to be reproduced hundreds of miles away – though it seems to have worked in test runs.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Somewhere green in Britain or France
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I just got married to Jane, which was pretty happy
What is your present state of mind?
Roderick Chadwick will premiere Jim Aitchison’s Portraits for a Study at the University of Falmouth on Saturday 22nd February, with a simultaneous performance via Yamaha Disklavier technology at the Royal Academy of Music, Yamaha London and Goldsmith’s College.
Roderick Chadwick was born in Manchester and educated at Chetham’s School of Music, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Hamish Milne. He was awarded the Mosco Carner Fellowship in 1997-8 and joined the academic staff of the Academy in 1999. Since then he has combined his teaching and research interests with an active career as a soloist and chamber musician, particularly in the field of contemporary music. He has performed at many of Britain’s most prominent venues including the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, the Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, where he made his Southbank debut in 1996 playing the Tippett Piano Concerto. As an undergraduate in Cambridge he performed the complete piano works of Olivier Messiaen, an experience which sparked his continuing research interest in Messiaen’s music and that of his students.
Roderick’s long-standing duo partnerships with violinists Chloë Hanslip and Narimichi Kawabata have seen him perform widely in Europe, the United States and Asia, including recitals at Seoul Arts Centre, Auditorium du Louvre, Schloss Elmau and Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. He is a founder-member of the avant-garde Ensemble Plus-Minus, with whom he has appeared at the Huddersfield, Ultima (Oslo) and TRANSIT (Leuven) festivals, and is also a regular guest pianist with the chamber ensemble CHROMA. Many of his performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, as well as on national radio in France, Japan and South Korea, and he has recently featured on CD recordings on the Innova, Guild, and Victor (Japan) labels.