Your own private masterclass: Tido Music app

Tido, in partnership with renowned music publisher Edition Peters, has created a smart new iPad application for pianists which takes the educational app to new heights. Tido has already developed the Mastering the Piano app with Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang, and therefore already had a stack of tech and musical know-how with which to build its latest app, Tido Music.

Most iPad music education apps are designed for children and young people, or for teachers to use with their students (such as Wolfie). Others, such as Tomplay, encourage independent learning combined with piano fun, but few offer detailed historical context, analysis, and instruction in the way Tido Music does.

What makes it special?

Tido Music is a platform for the discovery and performance of music. To achieve this, Tido has used Music Encoding Initiative’s open source framework which supports the development of dynamic notation. Put simply, for the end user, the app delivers interactive sheet music seamlessly layered with audio, video and text to allow musicians to feel more immersed in the music.

‘In designing Tido Music, our starting point was to find an architecture which could unite all the varied ways of experiencing music: notation, audio, literature, video and more…….We’ve created an app that does just that. Not only does it bring all the facets of music together in one place to create a truly immersive experience; it also features the very best content from some of the world’s leading performing artists and scholars.’

Brad Cohen, founder of Tido Music

The app has an attractive clean design and is very easy to navigate. Music is stored by composer in “volumes” – for example, Bach’s Two-Part Inventions, Chopin’s 24 Preludes – and for each piece, the user may listen to the music (played not by a MIDI player but beautifully by a real live pianist) and view the score. Tido’s technology includes a magic cursor, a mauve shadow which guides the user through the music (and which is far more comfortable on the eye than a coloured marker which some other music apps use). Within the score, the user can adjust the pulse and annotate the score, and there’s a useful help option too. The app also offers a revolutionary automatic page-turning facility that works by allowing the app to listen to the player. Page turns can also be programmed depending on how far ahead you read/memorise what is coming next – and the app will turn the page for you even if your performance isn’t 100% accurate.

So far so similar to other score-reading apps….but the real achievement of Tido music is the inclusion of filmed live performances of the music being played. The audio and visual quality of these films is really striking, and the user can enjoy multi-angle performances of the pianist’s hands at work. While the video plays, you can also read the score at the bottom of the screen with a cursor which moves in sync with the performance. In addition, there are masterclasses where the user can explore the piece in the company of a real concert pianist or musicologist who offers their own insights into the music and how to play it. In future, the app will include masterclasses of multi-movement works as well.

Concert pianist Daniel Grimwood introduces a Bach Two-Part Invention
There is information about the composer’s compositional style and techniques, and an in-depth guide to the music in each volume, including social and historical contexts. It is this additional content which, for me, makes the Tido app far superior to anything else I have seen. To be able to watch, close up, the music being played, and hear the pianist talk about it, is a compelling learning tool – in effect, one can enjoy a private masterclass with a top-flight pianist in the comfort of one’s living room or piano studio.

Edition Peters, who are responsible for developing the first set of content that flows into the app, has secured an impressive roster of international pianists for the app, including Daniel Grimwood, Clare Hammond, Adam Tendler, Richard Uttley, Joanna Macgregor and French piano music scholar Roy Howat. Each brings their own personal insights and “pianistic hacks” to the pieces (Richard Uttley, for example, has a neat “fix” for dealing with a tricky flourish in Brahms’ Intermezzo Op 119, no. 3). These are the sort of details one would normally only expect to obtain from a master teacher.

Tido’s partnership with music publisher Edition Peters also gives them access to a vast archive of scores for use in the app, from J S Bach to John Cage. Some of these are free, others can be purchased singly or in volumes. Those downloading the app can experience and explore its many features by signing up to a free, 30-day trial, and take advantage of a special introductory £2.99 monthly subscription. Tido promises that the app, “will continue to grow with a range of content from leading publishers”. The first collection, Piano Masterworks, offers a great selection, including popular favourites such as Beethoven’s Für Elise, Ravel’s Pavane, Chopin’s Preludes and Grieg’s Lyric Pieces, but it is cheering to also find music by Cage, Field, Scriabin, Mussorgsky, Clementi and Janáček, thus offering the user a wide variety of repertoire to explore and play. I’d like to see more contemporary piano music, and also more advanced repertoire, but hopefully this is in the pipeline.

This is an impressive and innovative  music app, particularly suited to amateur pianists or piano students who are looking for the opportunity for independent but supported study of the piano and its literature.


Key features:

  • acoustic audio recordings, aligned with interactive scores from Edition Peters
  • exclusive video performances and in-depth tutorials from leading experts and concert pianists
  • historical context and critical commentary from established scholars and editors
  • powerful practice tools, including annotation and auto-paging

The app is available now via the iTunes app store

ipad_screen_perspective_03_downsize(pictures: Tido Music)

Meet the Artist……Belle Chen, pianist


Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

When I was young, I was extremely shy around people. I felt more comfortable when I spent time at the piano, and the more time I spent exploring the sonic worlds of different composers and the instrument, the more I fell in love with music. Music became a vital way for me to communicate, and there were no second thoughts from then on pursuing a career in music.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

As a pianist, my teachers and mentors throughout every stage of my development- Ian Fountain, Oleg Stepanov, Helen Dobrenko, and Neville Baird- have all shaped my sound on the piano and approach to classical music repertoire. I also look up to strong female role models during my period of learning- including the wonderful Joanna MacGregor who has been a real inspiration and who is ever so encouraging during my time at Royal Academy of Music, and the equally inspiring Natasha Vlassenko from Queensland Conservatorium.

Stylistically speaking, I listen to a very wide range of music and am constantly taking inspiration from great artists of other genres. For example, the structural construct for my new album ‘Mediterranean Sounds’ was inspired by Frank Zappa’s ‘Civilization Phase III’ and Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’. In terms of sound design, I also look up to Brian Eno and take inspiration from his treatment of sounds and samples.

When it comes to how the samples are integrated with classical music and performance presentation, I observe the practices of a wide range of artists (and their producers) and DJs ranging from Miles Davis, Gilles Peterson, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Gypsy Kings, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, right up to Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, and more recently the phenomenally talented Jacob Collier.

In the end, I am a bit like a sponge, always absorbing sounds and formulating new ideas to integrate these with classical music language. There are many influences on my music and sound- all important and always evolving!

I think equally as important as influences are the people and new friends that I encounter and meet while sourcing my sounds. I am always curious about people, and encounters often allow for a glimpse inside their respective worlds and lives. Observing people’s stories and shared experiences very often provide the fuel and motivation for my works.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I am a sensitive person, and it is always an internal struggle to stand strong and firm in my artistic visions amidst challenges and criticism, especially in my more experimental works. It has taken me a very long time to find a sound and style that is ‘me’- something that satisfied my need to create and communicate my own voice and experiences- and not merely perform the masterpieces.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

So far, I have been lucky with the attention that came from my first EP- ‘Listen, London’- which was an integration of sampled sounds captured around London with piano works by Poulenc, Sibelius, Liszt, Ginastera, and more. It has been a long hard road though, I remembered when I first showed it to a couple of people and recording stores, it caused them some very genuine confusion. “What, was this recorded in a car park?!” was one of the remarks… It was quite a challenge to power through the critical remarks in the beginning, as I had taken a leap of faith and poured my heart and soul into the project. But nevertheless, it was a great learning curve and I feel stronger as an artist because of this.

Since then, ‘Listen, London’ was handpicked by Brian Eno for Curator’s Choice in 2014 NOISE Festival, and then subsequently led to my recent win of 2015 London Music Awards’ Classical Music Rising Star Award. This year it was picked up by BBC Introducing, and aired on BBC 3, BBC 6, Classic Radio Finland and so on.

I am following ‘Listen, London’ up with ‘Mediterranean Sounds’- a concept album that integrates soundscapes in a slightly different manner that is less intense and more poetic than ‘Listen, London’. I am also immensely proud of ‘Mediterranean Sounds’- it has taken my 2 years to bring it into fruition!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I play the works that speak to my heart and personal experience the best.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Repertoire choices are often chosen after research and experimenting to find what fit the best in designing a particular experience through a programme.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I think my favourite concert venues are associated to the audience in it… I love all venues large and small, indoors or outdoors, when the chemistry and vibe between the audience and the stage is strong!

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

When I was young, I listened to Ashkenazy’s recording of Rachmaninaff Piano Concert No. 2 & 3 with the Moscow Philharmonic a lot. It is partially because it was the first classical music recording that I owned, and it remains a recording that I hold close to my heart.

Right now on my iPhone music library are: Astor Piazzolla, Juan de Marcos & Afro-Cuban All Stars, Los Amigos Invisibles, London Symphony Orchestra, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Michael Kieran Harvey, Pascal Roge, Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura Band, Esperanza Spalding, Erykah Badu, St. Germain, The RH Factor, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, Vikter Duplaix, George Benson, Jacob Collier, and a list of Greek folk music that I am currently investigating.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are so many! Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Brian Eno, Quincy Jones, and my more recent fascinations are as mentioned above!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There have been several memorable concert experiences- the hilarious moment where I tripped over my own dress on stage, the touching moment when I could hear an audience member sobbing from on the stage (I was relieved when she later told me it was because she was touched… phew), the sweet moment of a very young girl climbing onstage to dance to a waltz and handing me a flower that she had picked from the garden… in midst of the intense heat and humidity of regional Australia… and very recently the surreal moment of doing a sound-design & piano set at Latitude Festival in the middle of the woods…! There are many great memories.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Find your own voice.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I have a passion for travelling and exploring different cultures. I always source new audio and visual material when I travel and construct little pieces of sonic documentary as I go. I hope in 10 years time my portfolio will consist of sounds and works inspired by all seven continents!

Belle Chen’s new album Mediterranean Sounds was released on 8th September 2016


Spice Market in Istanbul x Fazil Say

Listen, London: The Opening (Poulenc)


Website/Social Media

Twitter: @bellepianist


Winner of Classical Music Rising Star Award at the inaugural 2015 London Music Awards, Australian-Taiwanese pianist Belle Chen has been enjoying a busy international schedule, performing a diversity of programmes ranging from classical piano recitals, chamber music recitals, to experimental collaborations with sound design, visual art, theatre, and dance.

Belle is a piano soloist for the prestigious Park Lane Group Artists in their 2015/16 season. Her festival appearances in recent years include: 2015 Newbury International Festival, Deal Festival, Australia & New Zealand Literature Festival, Shanghai World Expo, Bloomsbury Festival, Taipei Fringe Festival, and Teneriffe Festival. In 2014 & 2015, she toured UK as pianist in Concert Theatre’s production of Romeo & Juliet/The Rite of Spring, and as a solo recitalist in Taiwan and UK.

Belle’s performances have also been broadcasted and featured by media such as BBC Radio 3, BBC China, Monocle 24 Radio, Classic Radio Finland, Classic FM, ABC FM, 4MBS, and Dateline (TV). Belle graduated from Royal Academy of Music (United Kingdom) in September 2013 with Master of Music in Performance with Distinction, and has since been handpicked by Brian Eno for as a winner of Curator’s Choice for Music Award at 2014 NOISE Festival, awarded the 2014 Finalist Award for The American Prize for Music in Chamber Music, and winning the 2015 London Music Award.

Since 2016, Belle has been endorsed by Arts Council England under the Exceptional Talent visa scheme. She is currently a guest lecturer in Multimedia and Piano Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was previously endorsed as a Graduate Entrepreneur after her degree. Belle is the founding director of Eito Music, where she leads a new generation of self-producing talents in classical and experimental genres.


The pianist who completed Bach’s final fugue

J S Bach’s final masterpiece, the Art of the Fugue, is one of the most challenging, intense and intellectual keyboard works of all time. The work also confronts the ultimate tragedy of music history: Bach died before finishing his most ambitious work, and for centuries musicians have pondered what Bach had in mind when he began the final triple fugue, based on the musical spelling of his name: B-A-C-H.

In the final Fugue a 3, Bach begins an audacious and exhilarating culmination to his massive work, combining three themes — the evolved derivative of the original theme, along with a jaunty second theme, each of which have just had their own extended sections in the piece — with a theme that spells his own name in notes (this is only possible if you think about the names of notes like the Germans do, go read about it). Unfortunately, he had barely begun when death claimed him, and the piece was left unfinished.

Performers have to make some hard choices when playing this work. What to do when you get to the last notes? Skip the section altogether? Some, like Glenn Gould, punch out the last note like a pistol shot, shocking the listener out of their musical meditation with the harsh reality that it wasn’t supposed to be over, yet. And a select few — perhaps a dozen over the last 260 years — have written their own ending.

Robert Douglass – ‘What 2000 Hours of Piano Practice Sounds Like

Completing an unfinished work presents many challenges – as those who have attempted completions of Schubert’s fragmentary piano sonatas and his ‘Unfinished’ Symphony have discovered. It is a daring undertaking – how can we know what the composer was thinking? Does one attempt to produce music which flows seamlessly to the end or put one’s own personality on it, based on what is already in the score? This is particularly tricky when tackling the music of the greatest composer of all time.

The unfinished fugue – Contrapunctus XIV (source Wikipedia)

Pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, whose previous Bach projects include recordings of the ‘Goldberg Variations’ and the ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’, has completed Bach’s ‘Art of Fugue’ with her own composition of the final triple fugue. Meticulous study of all the pieces leading up to the finale, combined with her conviction that Bach would have concluded the work with something powerful, dramatic, expressive, and architecturally true to the musical structures at the point where he stopped. Kimiko presents her interpretation of the complete work at a concert at London’s St John’s Smith Square on Friday 23 September.

Here Kimiko discusses the special place the music of Bach has in her musical life and the challenges of composing and performing his music:

As a performer, you always try to understand what was in the mind of the composer. You pick apart the harmonies, the structures, and do your best to figure out why the composer wrote what they did. The resulting performance is hopefully a representation of the composer’s thoughts and emotions that is true to the quality and intensity of what they had imagined.  

If one wants to perform a piece of music that is truly reflective of one’s own thoughts and emotions, it isn’t enough to rest on the compositions of others; one has to write one’s own. Only then are you in total control over what is in the piece, and how it is put together. 

I started composing because I realised that I was having a musical experience in my mind that wasn’t written down anywhere. So I had to write it down to capture it. This turned into my first piece, after which I wrote more. I then realised that composing is a very enjoyable (albeit difficult, and draining) activity, and I especially like that you can do it out in nature; walking along while thinking, as opposed to being closed up in the practice room, chained to the piano.

Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life and career?

Without question, my careful study of J.S. Bach’s music has been extremely influential. Not only in my completion of “Die Kunst der Fuge” [The Art of Fugue], but also in the pieces that I write for myself. The complexity that results in carefully crafted counterpoint holds a strong attraction for me.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career?

Composing music takes me into a space so private, so deep, and so intense, that it leaves me drained and hollow when Im finished. By pouring every emotional and intellectual resource that I possess into the music, I have nothing left for myself. Its honestly been one of the reasons I dont simply compose more of the time; I cant bear the state of emptiness and loneliness that Im in at the end of the process.

I think the completion of “Die Kunst der Fuge” held special challenges, because it had to spring from Bach’s work naturally and organically. That means I had to do my best to adhere to the constraints, as best they’re understood, that Bach laid down in the extant sections of the work, yet suppose what he might have been up to at the time he stopped writing. But still, I was the one who had to produce the notes, so they definitely bear my fingerprint as well, and I’m the one who had to decide whether they sound good or not. Bach could no longer lend me his good judgment on the matter.

How would you characterise your own compositional language?

The music Ive composed recently is all fugal. Of the fugues Ive written, the only thing that has been performed in public is the completion of Die Kunst der Fuge”. Im quite proud that nobody seemed able to put their finger on the moment when Bachs music ended, and mine began.

How do you work?

I consider the structure of my works very carefully, and give each note due consideration. I keep track of the basic elements that are in use, and how they go together to create the big arc of the work.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

I once played in a huge tent for 2,000 geeks and hackers who were attending a tech convention in the middle of a Dutch sheep field. It was probably the first live classical performance many of them had ever heard. I played Bach and Chopin, and the audience gave me every last bit of their attention, hanging on every note until the very end. It was magical for everyone.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

Find your own way, and do what it takes to assure the highest level of quality that you are capable of.

The Art of Fugue at St John’s Smith Square

Meet the Artist……Finghin Collins, pianist

(photo: Frances Marshall)

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music? 

My family! I am the youngest of four children and when I came along my three elder siblings were all at it! I was dying to get started and at the age of three my eldest sister Mary (aged 13) started to teach me. At age 6 I won a scholarship into the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin to continue my studies with John O’Conor, but Mary also continued to coach me at home. And I haven’t stopped playing since! And I’m nearly 40!

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

John O’Conor was the most wonderful and inspiring teacher and mentor.  He taught me from age 6 to 22 – I did my bachelor degree in music performance under his tutelage.  He has also been extremely generous to me by promoting me to his many international contacts and has helped my career enormously.

Christoph Eschenbach also helped me greatly when I was in my early 20s.  I was selected by Menahem Pressler to play for him at a  public masterclass in Ravinia and Eschenbach was so impressed he invited me to make my American début with the Houston Symphony – and I subsequently returned to play with the Chicago Symphony under his direction  – that was an amazing experience!

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

Maintaining a high standard of performance throughout a gruelling schedule of concerts with varying repertoire.  I am very lucky to be very busy and I get through a huge amount of difficult repertoire and am constantly learning new chamber music scores (currently the Ligeti Horn Trio!) – this is all wonderful and I am very grateful to be so busy but it comes with great challenges, simply being on top of the music at all times! And the other great challenge for me is dealing with varying acoustics.  It makes it so much harder to perform when you are in a dry theatre! Sadly one cannot play at the Wigmore Hall all of the time!

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

My solo Schumann recordings for Claves Records.  They were the first really serious recordings I made and the whole process was so rewarding and fascinating.  So different to performing in recital. Hugely demanding in concentration but very satisfying when the final product sounds OK!

Which particular works do you think you play best?  

In solo repertoire, I think I am happiest with Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Chopin  – at least, at the moment! I have just recorded a new Chopin CD and I feel really comfortable in that repertoire. But I love playing Bach as well!

Paricular works that I feel I play best (reading the question again!) – Schubert Drei Klavierstücke D. 946, Brahms Two Rhapsodies Op. 79, Alban Berg Piano Sonata, Chopin Ballade No. 4.  Just off the top of my head! Other people may think differently! I often think we are perhaps not the best judges of our own playing??!

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

That is another great challenge.  It’s so hard to know what you will want to play 18 months in the future, or how you will get on with certain pieces.  It takes great courage (or foolhardiness?) to programme a very challenging work (for example the Chopin Preludes Op. 28) in a major venue (for example the Wigmore Hall)  when you haven’t ever played them before!

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I’ve already mentioned it twice – the Wigmore Hall in London has got the most fabulous acoustic, and the feeling on stage is so rewarding and positive. I always feel I play about 10% better there than anywhere else! There’s just a feel-good factor, something about the sound that comes back to you on stage.  It’s the perfect size auditorium – for solo recitals at least, I’ve done very little chamber music there and no song! Hopefully in the future ! Another venue I’m very fond of – and proud of – is St. Mary’s Church in New Ross in Ireland, where we hold the annual New Ross Piano Festival in late September.  It has a most satisfactory acoustic and has been compared to the finest chamber halls in Europe.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Perform: see above.

Listen to: Brahms string sextets, Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin, Verdi opera, Mozart opera, Mendelssohn octet…

Who are your favourite musicians?

Gosh, where to start! There are too many.  I work with such a huge variety of wonderful musicians. For example, this summer I worked with a  wonderful Russian violinist Nikika Borisoglebsky, I’d never heard of him and he was amazing! I also worked with the Goldner String Quartet in Australia, who were wonderful, what a lovely experience! And that’s just picking two at random. At the moment I have a few projects with István Várdai who is a fabulous Hungarian cellist.  Over the past decade I have worked a lot with the wonderful French cellist Marc Coppey.  When it comes to starry pianists (if that’s what the question meant?!) – the usual suspects apply – Argerich / Perahia / Lupu / Uchida but possibly most of all Grigory Sokolov, who is extraordinary.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

A recital by Grigory Sokolov in Switzerland (Cully Classique festival 2013 – it took place in a small intimate church with no more than 300 people) in which he played a most stunning rendition of the Hammerklavier Sonata.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Listen to yourself, listen to others, listen to other genres of music, be open to new ideas, play a lot of chamber music, go to a lot of concerts, don’t do too many masterclasses, don’t study until you’re 30, don’t do too many competitions, get out there and network and respond to emails in a business-like fashion!

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Doing the same routine only better, still having lots of concert engagements, still travelling, still having an appetite for it all, meeting new people, playing new music, constantly striving to serve the music better and fulfil my potential. Keep communicating the central message of the music to our audience, whom we live to serve! Without audiences we are nothing!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Jumping off a boat into the green sea off a Greek island for a swim before drinks and dinner with a treasured friend (or two).

What is your most treasured possession?

My iphone.

What do you enjoy doing most?


What is your present state of mind?


Finghin Collins has been Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival since its inception in 2006. This year’s festival runs from 22-25 September. Further information here

One of Ireland’s most successful musicians, Dubliner Finghin Collins was born in 1977 and studied piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with John O’Conor and at the Geneva Conservatoire with Dominique Merlet. Winner of the RTÉ Musician of the Future Competition in 1994 and the Classical Category at the National Entertainment Awards in Ireland in1998, he went on to achieve major international success by taking first prize at the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Switzerland in 1999. Since then he has developed a flourishing international career that takes him all over Europe, the United States and the Far East.

Finghin Collins’ website

All aboard for Voyages of the Sea at the Cutty Sark

Perpetuo presents…
6:45pm doors open | 7:30pm concert starts 
22nd September 2016, Dry Berth at Cutty Sark, Greenwich

Celebrating the launch of Ensemble Perpetuo’s second season, VOYAGES OF THE SEA brings you some of the most beautiful chamber music in the unique setting of the Dry Berth of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

From the cliffs of Dover to the tempestuous southern ocean, Ensemble Perpetuo will take you on a poetic and musical journey exploring the beauty and unforgiving nature of our seas, and will tell the tales of the courage and love of those who have worked and sailed across it.

This concert will feature music by Debussy, Roxanna Panufnik, Sally Beamish, Cecilia McDowall and Malcolm Arnold. Ensemble Perpetuo will be joined by narrator, Richard Stilgoe, and conductor, Alasdair Nicolson, for a performance of the Upside Down Sailor by Roxanna Panufnik. This piece is inspired by the real life events of Tony Bullimore who survived for days in his capsized boat during a round-the-world sailing challenge.

The London Photo Festival will also be curating a special exhibition of photographs inspired by the sea for this event. 

The concert is programmed by Ensemble Perpetuo and Royal Museums Greenwich and part of Totally Thames that runs from 1-30 September. 

CECILIA McDOWALL Time Between Tides
ROXANNA PANUFNIK The Upside Down Sailor
SALLY BEAMISH The Lone Seafarer

Tickets include viewing of Cutty Sark galleries prior to the concert and are available for £20 and £18 for NMM Members / Concessions plus booking fee
Meet the Artist……James Turnbull (founder of Perpetuo Ensemble)

Meet the Artist……Fenella Humphreys

Haydn’s London Ladies

hll_general_02Clare McCaldin (mezzo) & Paul Turner (piano)

20th September 2016, St Paul’s Knightsbridge

When Haydn made his very successful visits to London in the 1790s, he was already an international celebrity. He was welcomed into musical society where he made many strong friendships, including with a number of women. All were admirers of his music, some were musicians, privately or professionally, some were writers and composers. All of them responded to Haydn’s charm, in spite of his fairly poor grasp of English.

This concert tells the story of Haydn’s relationship with these women, some of whom were not only admirers of his music but artists themselves, through the vocal and piano music associated with them. 

Haydn’s London Ladies – Rebecca Schroeder, Anne Hunter, Therese Jansen, Harriet Abrams and Emma Hamilton – are fascinating in their own right. They illustrate how precarious the social position of women was at this time, totally reliant on family or the right kind of husband for status and income, even the most celebrated were subject to swift and terrible changes of fortune, as the stories of these Ladies demonstrate.

Book tickets

Ahead of the concert mezzo Clare McCaldin and pianist Paul Turner kindly submitted Meet the Artist interviews:

clare_may2015_head01Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?  

Clare McCaldin: There was a lot of music around my family home but I was a rather indifferent student at the piano and cello. I did enjoy singing and continued this at university but for various reasons stopped once I graduated. After ten years, I had a Damascene moment and realised that I needed to at least explore the possibility of being a professional singer. I can’t really explain it, but it was a life-changing moment.

Paul Turner: We had a piano in the house which I showed an interest in playing and my parents were good enough to arrange lessons for me. When it came to making career choices, I didn’t feel there was anything else I could possibly do!

pt_500sqWho or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

CM: Terry Edwards, the chorus master of the Royal Opera, was the first person to give me regular work and hence the opportunity to learn my craft. I had no formal training beyond A-level music and didn’t know how to be on a stage but I could learn by watching the best singers in the world and being surrounded by excellent ensemble colleagues. I also found a vocal coach in Paula Anglin who could help me to excel.

PT: I was involved in every possible form of music making in school – playing the piano for choirs, , school productions, assemblies, concerto soloist, chamber music, orchestra (as a trumpet player), choirs, conducting and arranging. Looking back, I had an extraordinarily committed and encouraging music teacher in Pat Read.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

CM: Starting ten years too late and playing catch-up!

PT: Dealing with the huge amount of repertoire needed when you work as both chamber musician and soloist!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of? 

CM: There are two recordings – ‘Notes from the Asylum’, my second CD with Champs Hill Records and ‘Wild Cyclamen’, a collection of songs by Hugh Wood made with NMC. My pride in these is not only in the performances, but because I put the projects and teams together and successfully pitched them to the record labels.

In live performance, my one-woman show ‘Vivienne’, by Stephen McNeff, remains a highlight.

PT: Two things come to mind – my first solo piano recording with Prologue, ‘Night Visions’ (beautifully recorded by Patrick Abbott) and a ‘live’ broadcast from Cheltenham Festival with Elizabeth Watts.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?  

CM: Like many British singers, I am a generalist and perform everything from early music to dots that are still wet on the page. However, I particularly respond to dramatic situations, story and character in a piece, and to works in which the words are an integrated and expressive part of the whole.

PT: I think as a chamber musician you find a way of searching out something in every composer that you can identify with and many different ways of approaching works musically.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?  

CM: I always have a list on the go of pieces I’d like to sing and sometimes I get the chance to programme from this. More often an invitation is to sing a particular piece or programme that has already been chosen. In recital there is usually room for negotiation and I like to take each programme as a chance to add a couple of new works to my repertoire.

PT: They are usually made by other people! That’s not entirely true if I’m working with longstanding colleagues and friends, but generally the repertoire is decided before I’m offered the work.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?  

CM: I’m still waiting to road-test the Wigmore and the Concertgebouw, which everyone says are amazing. I do like the Holywell Music Room in Oxford.

PT: Wigmore Hall – isn’t it everyone’s?!

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?  

CM: I generally like what I’m working on at the moment, so ‘Arianna a Naxos’ and Mozart’s ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te’. But I always love singing the ‘Wesendoncklieder’. At the moment I am listening to Jonathan Plowright’s recording of Walter Rummel’s Bach Transcriptions, which are absolute favourites of mine.

PT: I genuinely tend to favour whatever I’m working on at the moment. Particularly enjoying listening to Jonas Kaufman’s Puccini album at the moment (and some classic Queen!). 

Who are your favourite musicians?  

CM: It’s a great privilege that by working at the Royal Opera from time to time, I get to witness Antonio Pappano at work. He is an amazing musician and I have learned so much about singing by listening to him work with other singers in rehearsal, and also with the orchestra. Closer to home, I work with a handful of different accompanists, all of whom are also incredible soloists, and for whom I have huge admiration. It’s such a multifaceted activity and I think they must each have at least three brains.

PT: I enjoy working with and listening to particularly communicative performers, which is why I love working with singers, or artists such as Nicholas Daniel or Caroline Dale, who may as well be!

What is your most memorable concert experience?  

CM: Last year I jumped into a concert of a solo contemporary work with the Brodsky String Quartet, which had very limited rehearsal. It was absolutely exhilarating to work with them and to rise to the challenge of the piece and the situation.

PT: Two concerts at the Theatre Colon in Buenos Aires with Maria Ewing. Terrifying on every level but very rewarding as a result.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?  

CM: Support, don’t compete – music-making is a team sport and also much more enjoyable this way. Be generous with your time and advice if people ask for it.

Do it yourself, don’t wait for someone else to hand it to you. In an ideal world we would all be offered enough interesting and lucrative work to satisfy us. This is for the few. Most of us need to choose and actively build our own career, which will take planning, time and, crucially, creative-thinking to develop new and distinctive options for ourselves.

PT: That making music isn’t competitive and every musician has something worthwhile to say to an audience.

What is your present state of mind?  

CM: Empire-building

What is your most treasured possession? 

PT: My new Yamaha CF6 piano. Beautiful sound and endless colours – essential when you’re trying to practice matching sounds to an endless variety of instrumental combinations and styles of music.



T is for…..

10863510-1416476088-549536(Musical) Terms

Descriptive words, usually in Italian, used to define tempo, expression, articulation, dynamics, pedaling or a specific feature such as a glissando or cadenza. We start learning and accumulating musical terms from the moment we begin to play the piano, starting with the simplest terms – forte (loud), piano (soft), allegro (quick or brisk), andante (at a walking pace). As we progress in our piano studies, we add more terms to our dictionary – allegretto, adagio, largo, presto, cantabile, accelerando, rallentando…..

metronomeComposers use terms to guide us in our interpretation of their music. With the invention of the metronome terms relating to tempo (such as presto, allegro, andante, adagio) became more standardised and suggested tempi are given on the body of the metronome in beats per minute, and also at the start of a piece. These speeds are not set in stone, however, and terms should be interpreted according to the character and style of the piece, as well as our own abilities and limitations.

Andante is a term which has always interested me. We know it means “at a walking pace”, but my walking pace may not be the same as yours. And maybe one day my walking pace is hurrying for a train, and another it is strolling in the park……. In the slow movement of Schubert’s Sonata in A, D959, the tempo marking is andantino and the character of the music suggests to me the weary tread of a melancholy traveler. Some will disagree, preferring a brisker walking pace, or the plod of an almost-funereal Adagio.

I love highly descriptive terms – allegro con fuoco (fast and with fire), allegro amabile (which means amiably quick, but which I prefer to translate as “smile as you quickly place”), affettuoso (with affection and tenderness), accarezzevole (caressing), bruscamente (brusquely), perdendosi (dying away). Once could write a passionate love story from these terms.


When I asked for suggestions for this entry in the Pianist’s Alphabet, a number of my pianist friends and colleagues suggested Tea. What would we do without it? I must drink six or seven cups a day. It fuels my practising, my teaching and my writing. Tea keeps fingers and brain lubricated. My morning ritual is to make a large mug of smokey Lapsang Souchong which I take to the piano. The ritual is repeated at regularly intervals, and mid-morning my husband will silently bring me a cup of tea and place it on my desk behind the piano. Coffee makes me jittery and nauseous – not an ideal combination when one is trying to refine Schubert’s heavenly length.

Others T’s (suggested by friends and colleagues)…..





Terrifying Thalberg

Tickle (as in “tickle the ivories”)








If you listen to one thing this week…

jo-quail-five-incantationsAdrian Ainsworth nominates Jo Quail: ‘Five Incantations’

In recent years, my listening has evolved and expanded from rock/folk/electronica more and more towards the labyrinth of listening options that is ‘classical music’… So perhaps it’s no wonder that one of my favourite artists is someone who is continually developing along those lines as a musician.

Jo Quail is a cellist and composer who produces work primarily (but not exclusively) for performance on her own electric cello, plus loop station. This electronic aspect allows her to write pieces that develop layer upon layer into something genuinely, and at times overwhelmingly, orchestral. Part of the exhilaration of seeing her live is to watch how the tracks build: the total absence of trickery, the obvious presence of melodic/harmonic invention, and rhythmic precision.

Because she emerged from, broadly speaking, the avant-garde ‘underground rock’ world, it’s still perhaps most common to encounter JQ supporting a heavy instrumental guitar band, or quietly wowing a festival crowd on the continent. But when she stages a concert of her own, she gives her ‘classical’ side equal weight – as with her recent composition for electric and acoustic cellos, percussion and choir, ‘This Path with Grace’. (To me, it’s a mystery why a label like NMC or ECM aren’t paying more attention – perhaps it’s a side-effect of JQ building her fanbase in all corners of the music-going public?)

However, her latest recording ‘Five Incantations’ is, in its own way, her most ambitious and fully-realised project yet. The ‘incantations’ are related movements that form a kind of suite, or single-player concerto, for cello and electronics. As we’re guided through the elements, the mood shifts between driving, stately anthems and near-ambient, gliding pauses for reflection. Overall, the work is designed for listening in one sitting – and JQ plays it live, entirely solo, in an unbroken, 40-minute sequence.

That said, ‘Gold’ is perhaps the section that can most readily stand alone. Before the album’s release, JQ issued an alternative mix of this particular track, and I’m very fond of it – I return to it often, especially if I don’t have time to play the whole CD. It encapsulates the attractions of her music beautifully. The unhurried patience of the tune as it nestles in your brain; the heartbeat rhythm (created by striking the cello) dovetailing with the harsher, bowed punctuation points that kick in after around five minutes; the way the loops allow various parts to ‘slot’ in and out until finally fitting together like a musical jigsaw.

If you like this, please investigate further on JQ’s Bandcamp page (, where you can listen to – and buy – her music.

(To give an idea of the ‘live’ experience with something a little more pacy than ‘Gold’, here is a performance of ‘Laurus’ from the previous album ‘Caldera’ – the video allows you to see the quickfire use of loop pedals, all managed in a near-balletic style while playing an absolute blinder with the hands!)

Meet the Artist……Jo Quail

Adrian Ainsworth writes for a living, but mostly about things like finance, tax and benefits. For light relief, then, he covers his obsessions – overwhelmingly music, but with sprinklings of photography and art – on the ‘Specs’ blog, which you can find at





London Piano Festival 2016


7-9 October 2016, Kings Place, London

The London Piano Festival is a brand new celebration of the piano created by Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen. These two highly-acclaimed pianists have enjoyed extensive performing careers both as soloists, chamber musicians and as a widely-admired duo partnership. Their shared love of the instrument has led them to curate this weekend especially for the city’s many piano lovers.

The festival – co-curated by Owen and Apekisheva – will include performances from some of the world’s leading pianists such as Kathryn Stott, Noriko Ogawa, Stephen Kovacevich and Julian Joseph in addition to a lecture on Liszt From Exuberance to Asceticism by Alfred Brendel. Owen and Apekisheva will perform the world premiere of a new work for two pianos written by American composer Nico Muhly.

“There is a lot of laughter in our rehearsals and we have created the London Piano Festival because we wanted to share our enjoyment of the repertoire with many of our friends.” Charles Owen

The duo has created the London Piano Festival to bring together their friends and colleagues for an entertaining and collaborative weekend of piano music. The festival begins with Alfred Brendel’s lecture on Liszt on 7 October, followed by a performance of Liszt’s piano sonata in B Minor by Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon. On 8 October co-Artistic-Director Charles Owen performs a selection of Bach Partitas, Kathryn Stott performs a French recital of Fauré, Ravel, Messiaen and Dutilleux and co-Artistic-Director Katya Apekisheva performs a programme of Chopin, Scriabin and Fauré. The highlight of the London Piano Festival is the two piano gala on 8 October with Stephen Kovacevich, Katya Apekisheva, Ronan O’Hora, Charles Owen, Martin Roscoe, Kathryn Stott and Ashley Wass. The varied programme includes duets by Busoni, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Milhaud, Piazzolla and Grainger, in addition to the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Fast Patterns – a rearrangement of an organ piece.

On Sunday 9 October, Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa gives three children’s concerts with the theme of the magical world of the piano. Ogawa’s short 30-minute concerts are aimed at 2–5 year-olds followed by a 45-minute concert for children aged 6+. Pianist Lucy Parham joins actor Henry Goodman for Réverie – a composer portrait on Debussy combining his words and music. The 2016 London Piano Festival ends with a jazz recital by Julian Joseph, featuring a mixture of pieces including a selection of his own compositions and jazz standards by Gershwin, Ellington and Porter.

Meet the Artist……Sophie Dunér, composer and singer


Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?

Elvis Presley – for his dynamics. However, my very first instrument was the piano and I wanted to be a `cocktail bar pianist´. Then I changed to voice. I had a short introductory period singing pop though, pretty soon coming to the realization that my artistic `mood´ was far too `serious´ and complicated for the task. I was looking for something more complex, artistically. That led me to enroll in jazz studies at Berklee College of Music (vocal performance & composition). Apart from the jazz studies, I also attended classes in classical singing as well as in contemporary classical composition.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Igor Stravinsky, Charles Mingus, Kurt Weill, Paco de Lucía, Cathy Barberian, Björk. I was also very fond of all types of ethnic and dynamic singing, which was a big influence on my expression in jazz. When it comes to composers, I listened to a variety, spanning from jazz, world music to contemporary classical – I always needed all of them to feed my ears.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

To explain what type of music I do, finding the right people to work with and finding the right venues to perform at. Making my music sound the way it should. Achieving consistency in work opportunities & controlling and combining it with my mood.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

My latest string quartet CD ‘The City of My Soul’ (produced by Michael Haas) and a track called “La Finadita” from the album ‘The Outsider’ by F. Tarrés and The Arida Conta Group. I am also very pleased with a performance I did with electric cello last year as well as some tracks from an upcoming vox & acoustic bass (jazz) CD. I also enjoyed a gig I did at `Festival O/Modernt’ in Stockholm (with a string orchestra among other combos.) A gig at `Festival de Música Cotemporánea de La Plata´ in Buenos Aires was also great – it was audiovisual as well.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I love to sing music with angular melodies. With extreme highs and lows! That way, I can express varied vocal colours in my different vocal registers and vocal `placements´. I also love music with interesting rhythms and change of meter, and with a lot of energy and groove. I also like dissonance. And space, with dynamic attacks! Basically, anything that is vocally challenging is fun and stimulating.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

My choices are related to what type of gigs I have at the moment.  It´s also dependent on for whom I write and who I collaborate with. And where I am offered concerts and work – it’s all interrelated.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I like theatres. And I loved `Confidencen´at Ulriksdals Slott (where I recently performed) Another interesting venue to perform in was an ecological farm outside Zürich. Or a dusky jazz club. Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Basically, I like venues with a soul and which have their own personality.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

At the moment: to perform, `Caravan´ by Juan Tizol, `Weird Nightmare´ by Charles Mingus, `Addicted to Love´ by Sophie Dunér. To listen to:  the last part of `Petrushka by Stravinskij and track n° 2 from the CD “Bach por Flamenco” by Miriam Méndez, “Un amour de Swan” by Hans Werner Henze , “Weird Nightmare” by Mingus with singer Lorraine Cusson + “Cubana Be Cubana Bop” by Dizzy Gillespie.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Igor Stravinsky, Charles Mingus, George Antheil, Louis Andriessen, Thelonious Monk, Alberto Ginastera, Concha Buika, Paco de Lucía, Hans Werner Henze, Dizzy Gillespie, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazzola, Bill Frisell, Erik Friedlander (to mention a few!)

What is your most memorable concert experience?

On a jazz jam session when the audience screamed after my solo and the one I did recently at Festival O/Modernt and PARMA Music Festival last summer.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Take risks – better to fall and then rise more interesting afterwards than to stay safe.

What are you working on at the moment?

My own new original (jazz), angular pieces with extreme highs and lows as well as with lots of energy, rhythm and time meter changes. I will record with the electric cellist Jeremy Harman in July in Boston (with whom I performed at the PARMA Music Festival last year.) 

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

In a place where both mind and heart are combined and satisfied. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

What is your most treasured possession?

My imagination.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Composing, singing, painting, drawing, biking, hiking, photography, animals, cooking, comedy and have kids comment on my art and music.

What is your present state of mind?

Eager and unquiet.

Sophie Dunér is a singer, songwriter, composer, arranger and visual artist from Sweden who has lived and performed in the United States and Spain. Originally a jazz singer, her writing and performing have evolved into a unique style of wild, risky, passionate and exhilarating music for vocals and string quartet.

Frances Wilson blogs on pianism, classical music and culture