Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?
One of my early piano teachers, Christopher Vale. He is one of those amazingly enthusiastic musicians and teachers who couldn’t fail to inspire anyone. His passion for music was contagious at a very crucial time in my life.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My conservatoire teachers: Richard Ormrod, Alexandre Léger, and Rolf Hind. And Nelly Ben-Or and Chris Cullen for an inspiring and timely introduction to both the Alexander Technique and to mindfulness. And I really appreciate the time I spent away studying in France.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
The realisation that what I’ve decided to do with my life will be hard and likely not bring much certainty or security, but that somehow I have to do it regardless.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Messiaen Cantéyodjayâ, Bartók Out of Doors, Ives ‘Concord’ Sonata
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I pick things that I like – that excite me – and that I want people to hear. And I play new works, which is exciting in itself as I don’t always know what I’m going to get.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Listen to: Bartók Piano Concerto no. 2. Watch: Globokar Corporel. Play: Reich Sextet.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Bartók, Ligeti, Kate Bush.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Playing Feldman’s For Philip Guston (a four-and-a-half-hour-long trio) during which the venue’s heating stopped working (in February). Both musicians and (most) audience members powered through the cold to the end.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Keep at it – something is bound to happen.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Watching birds and doing a jigsaw.
Siwan Rhys is a Welsh pianist based in London. She currently holds the position of Artist Fellow at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, specialising in contemporary piano music, and also teaches piano at City University, London. Recent concert engagements include performances of Stockhausen’s Kontakte and of Feldman’s four-hour work For Philip Guston