Tag Archives: King’s Place

London Piano Festival 2017 announced

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“This piano day was altogether exemplary

Sunday Times | October 2016

Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva announce a Russian-themed programme for the second annual London Piano Festival, which runs from Thursday 5 to Sunday 8 October at Kings Place, London. The stunning line-up of pianist’s include Nelson Goerner, Ilya Itin, Lisa Smirnova, Jason Rebello, Danny Driver and Melvyn Tan. Co-Artistic Directors Owen and Apekisheva have commissioned Russian-born British composer Elena Langer to compose a new work and they perform her Kandinsky during the Two-Piano Marathon on 7 October.   Melvyn Tan gives the world premiere of a new composition by Kevin Volans.

The Festival links all aspects of the piano together, from traditional recitals to a family concert and jazz-fusion.  The inaugural festival last year was met with critical acclaim and enthusiasm from audiences in particular for the spirited Two-Piano Marathon, which saw multiple pianists grouping in different configurations with colleagues.
 
“This year’s concerts promise to build upon the excitement of the previous festival with many more superb artists, all of whom will perform music with which they feel a special affinity”
Charles Owen and Katya Apekisheva, co-Artistic Directors

On the opening night Charles Owen performs music by Brahms, Schumann-Liszt, Liszt and Wagner-Liszt, and Katya Apekisheva performs Tchaikovsky and Weinberg, followed by a second-half duo recital of Rachmaninoff’s Suite No. 2 and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances.On Friday 6 October, Argentine pianist Nelson Goerner will give a solo recital of Chopin, Albéniz and Liszt.  Goerner states that “Chopin is one of the closest composers to my heart […] he played an important role in my destiny as a musician”.  As a contrast, Goerner has chosen to pair the Chopin Nocturnes with music by Albéniz and Liszt.

To kick off Saturday’s daytime, bite-size recitals, Austrian-Russian pianist Lisa Smirnova brings a programme of Scarlatti, Mozart and Handel to Kings Place at 11:30am.  Smirnova has chosen repertoire by Scarlatti and Handel, who she described as “two of the most amazing keyboard virtuosos of their time” and pairs them with her favourite composer, Mozart.

Melvyn Tan’s afternoon recital on 7 October is centered around the world premiere of South-African composer Kevin Volans’ L’Africaine.   Tan explains that the piece “will spike the listener with vigorous rhythms and chants from the Continent”.  Tan has paired the premiere with Weber’s Invitation to the Dance and Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales and Miroirs.  

Described by the New York Times as “a brilliantly insightful pianist”, Russian pianist Ilya Itin has put together a programme of Schubert and Rachmaninoff for his afternoon recital.  As Itin states “there is an unusually grand scope and great sense of a journey into uncharted territory for both composers”, which he feels will be both challenging and rewarding for the audience.  Itin won the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1996.

For the Two-Piano Marathon, Saturday recitalists come together with Owen, Apekisheva and Danny Driver for an evening of duets in different combinations.  With a programme of John Adams, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Schumann, Shostakovich, Lutoslawski and the world premiere of Kandinsky by Elena Langer, the evening promises to be very special for both performers and audience alike.  Kandinsky is inspired by a selection of Kandinsky paintings to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution (8 March – 7 November 1917). This follows last year’s commission of Nico Muhly’s Fast Patterns (watch here). The Telegraph stated that last year’s Two Piano Marathon was “a reminder of what a fabulous variety of sound can be conjured from two pianos.  

Elena Langer wrote that “Katya and Charles asked me to write a short piece for their Festival. They wanted something connected to the 1917 Revolution. I was looking at pictures by Wassily Kandinsky from the same year: colourful, bold works which are very Russian, but also strange and unique. None of them actually depicts the Revolution, as if it weren’t happening! I would like my piano piece to achieve something similar in spirit.”

Owen and Apekisheva want the Festival to appeal to piano lovers of all ages. Following the success of last year’s family concert with Noriko Ogawa, Owen, Apekshieva and Driver present a children’s programme of Poulenc’s Babar the Elephant and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by actor Simon Callow (subject to availability).

The Festival finishes with a performance by jazz-fusion artist Jason Rebello.  Rebello has explained “I like to think that when you come to hear me play, you come on a journey with me and we both arrive at a joyful place together”.  He will perform material from his recent album ‘Held’ which won the Best British Jazz Album award in 2016, in addition to music from Sting to Errol Garner and beyond.

Explore the full programme

Critics’ response to inaugural London Piano Festival in 2016

***** “A reminder of what a fabulous variety of sound can be conjured from two pianos” Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

***** “A remarkable evening of exceptionally fine pianism and inventive programming, hugely enjoyable and highly engaging” Frances Wilson (The Cross-Eyed Pianist), Bachtrack

“This piano day was altogether exemplary” Paul Driver, The Sunday Times

 

[Source: Nicky Thomas Media]

Meet the Artist……Robert Levin

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

My parents were great music lovers and the gramophone and radio were central to my early exposure to music.  My musical guardian angel was my maternal uncle, Benjamin Spieler, who studied clarinet at Juilliard with Prokofiev’s friend and colleague Simeon Bellison (principal clarinettist in the NY Phil) and pursued studies in flute, oboe, and clarinet and saxophone at the Paris Conservatory and bassoon at Columbia in New York.  He discovered that I had absolute pitch and arranged my musical education forthwith, chaperoning me to Fontainebleau to study with the legendary Nadia Boulanger.  It is impossible for me to express adequately my debt to him.

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

Nadia Boulanger and Sir Clifford Curzon when I was young; Felix Galimir and Rudolf Kolisch later on..

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Let the listeners decide!  I have particular commitment to Viennese classical repertory, French music, and contemporary music, though the works I perform span the Elizabethan masters to the present.

What, for you, makes Mozart’s piano concerti special/significant in the canon of classical music?

They are operatic scenes, incorporating a breathtaking span of emotions that unfold under the guide of a masterful dramatist who perhaps is equalled only by Shakespeare.

What are the particular pleasures and challenges of Concertos 3 & 4 which you performed with Aurora orchestra as part of their Mozart’s Piano series at Kings Place?

The solo keyboard parts are written not by Mozart, but by expatriate composers living in Paris in the middle of the 18th century, together with C. P. E. Bach; Mozart supplied orchestral accompaniments, thereby transforming these movements into concertos.  It is fascinating to see how in doing this Mozart prepared himself for the task of composing instrumental concertos from scratch.  These are therefore works of apprenticeship.  From here Mozart develops the techniques of solo and tutti within aria form, transforming its structure to the domain of the instrumental concerto at the moment that he chafes against the static nature of opera seria and wants to have dramatic development WITHIN arias, not just BETWEEN them (in the recitatives, where the action typically happens in opera seria).

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There are many.  Hearing Gilels’ and Richter’s first recitals in New York.  Hearing Horowitz’s after his return to the concert platform.  Hearing Rudolf Serkin’s Hammerklavier sonata and Emperor concerto.  Hearing Curzon in solo and concerto repertoire.  Hearing Haitink conduct Bruckner 8 and Mahler 9.  And there then are my own experiences on stage—constant excitement, an endless learning curve, reveling in the exalted danger of risk-laden performances.

What advice would you give to anyone learning Mozart’s piano music?

Learn the grammar and the aesthetic, learn to discern the myriad character changes inherent in the fluid discourse, learn what is to learn, and then walk onstage and do what you must do to communicate this dizzying sensual world to an audience that will be forever changed by the message you bring to them.

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

Engagement with the musical narrative, character, drama, colour.  Be an actor—do for music what Meryl Streep does for the screen and the stage.

Mozart’s Piano, Aurora Orchestra’s monumental new five-year project offers audiences the rarest of opportunities: a complete cycle of the concertos, staged live in concert in the beautifully intimate surroundings of Hall One at Kings Place. Further information here

Pianist and Conductor Robert Levin has been heard throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia. His solo engagements include the orchestras of Atlanta, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, Utah and Vienna on the Steinway with such conductors as Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Bernard Haitink, Sir Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle and Esa-Pekka Salonen. On period pianos he has appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music, English Baroque Soloists, Handel & Haydn Society, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood, Sir Charles Mackerras, Nicholas McGegan, and Sir Roger Norrington.

Renowned for his improvised embellishments and cadenzas in Classical period repertoire, Robert Levin has made recordings for DG Archiv, CRI, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, ECM, New York Philomusica, Nonesuch, Philips and SONY Classical. These include a Mozart concerto cycle for Decca; a Beethoven concerto cycle for DG Archiv (including the world premiere recording of Beethoven’s arrangement of the Fourth Concerto for piano and string quintet); and the complete Bach harpsichord concertos with Helmuth Rilling, as well as the six English Suites (on piano) and both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier (on five keyboard instruments) as part of Hänssler’s 172-CD Edition Bachakademie. The first recording in a Mozart piano sonata cycle has also been released by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.

A passionate advocate of new music, Robert Levin has commissioned and premiered a large number of works.  He is a renowned chamber musician and a noted theorist and musicologist. His completions of Mozart fragments are published by Bärenreiter, Breitkopf & Härtel, Carus, Peters, and Wiener Urtext Edition, and recorded and performed throughout the world. (source Rayfield Allied)

 
 

London Piano Festival 2016 – a feast of five-star pianism

I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend some of the events and concerts at the inaugural London Piano Festival, conceived and directed by pianists Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen. For the opening edition of the festival, the directors invited artists who they admired and worked with personally. As Charles and Katya stated in the Festival programme:

“Pianists met each other far too rarely in the real world, mostly at auditions and competitions when we take our first steps in the music profession, and then at each other’s concerts. The professional soloist’s life is, by its very nature, a demanding and often solitary one. [The festival] is especially designed to bring these soloists together…..”

And it was perhaps a mark of the organisers’ success in achieving this aim that so many eminent pianists and music lovers were in the audience for the concerts, including Stephen Hough and Alexandra Dariescu, amongst others.

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Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen

The festival was held in the stylish, contemporary concert spaces at London’s Kings Place, fast becoming a popular hub for culture and arts in the newly-redeveloped area around King’s Cross station. The sense of “music by friends and for friends” was very clear from the warm atmosphere in and out of the concert halls, and the two-piano gala concert on Saturday evening, which was at the heart of the festival, was a wonderful celebration of musical friendship and collaboration. I attended two concerts with pianist friends, always enjoyable as we discussed what we had heard during the intervals and after the events. As one of my pianist friends remarked when I met her for the two-piano gala concert, “I feel completely intoxicated by music!”. I can think of no better endorsement for this wonderful weekend of piano music.

My reviews are on the Bachtrack.com site – follow the links below to read them:

‘Liszt’s b minor Sonata – from exuberance to asceticism’: lecture by Alfred Brendel and performance by Denes Varjon

A feast of phenomenal pianism: two-piano gala concert

 

 

Meet the Artist……Martin Roscoe

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

I started piano aged 6 and didn’t show much interest in the first few months but a family trip to London when I was just 7 included a night at the Proms, with Malcolm Sargent conducting the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique which just blew me away. When I got back home they couldn’t get me off the piano ! As far as a career was concerned I really had no idea what was entailed … I just drifted into it…one thing led to another. 

Who or what have been the most important influences on your career as a musician?

My teachers to start with: Marjorie Clementi, who sorted out my technique when I went to her aged 13 and who taught me to listen to myself for the first time. Gordon Green, who taught me how to practise in so many imaginative ways, and whose infectious love and enthusiasm for music overall was very inspiring. He really was a great human being. When I was a student Alfred Brendel’s early recordings were a great inspiration, and also the playing of so many pianists… Richter, Rubinstein , Kempff and Curzon to name a few of the most important.


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

Recording all the major Schubert works for Radio3 in the 1980’s and more recently recording all the Beethoven Sonatas for Deux-Elles. Playing at the Proms was a great experience , but very challenging!

You’re performing in the inaugural London Piano Festival – tell us about your programmes

With Ronan O ‘Hora I’m playing the immense Busoni Fantasia Contrapunctistica, and with Kathryn Stott the Percy Grainger Fantasy on themes from Porgy and Bess. A tremendous contrast between the towering intellect and gravity of the Busoni and the great fun and panache of the Grainger.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

My performance of Rachmaninov’s Second Concerto at the Proms in 1989, and my recordings of the Beethoven Sonatas

Which particular works/composers do you think you play best?

Beethoven and Schubert for sure. Mozart’s Concertos, Brahms, Dohnanyi, and Debussy.

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

I’ve started to play themed programmes in the last few seasons….The piano and nature for example this year including Beethoven’s Pastoral Sonata and shorter works by Liszt, Schumann, Dohnanyi Ireland and Debussy all inspired by nature. Next year The piano and Art …works by Liszt, Debussy and Granados culminating in Mussorgsky’s Pictures. Also a lot of all Beethoven programmes when recording the sonatas. Now all Schubert programmes in preparation for recording his works.

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

S0 many – but Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall for concertos…. The clarity and immediacy make it so exciting. For solo it’s difficult to beat Kings Place. For chamber the warmth of sound in the Wigmore is very special

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Too many to list….but for listening I’m still as obsessed by Wagner now as I was when I discovered his music as a teenager. Haydn Quartets are an endless treasure trove…..

Who are your favourite musicians?

Again, where to start ? Just recently I heard two stunning performances from very contrasting pianists whose work I love and admire…….Richard Goode and Martha Argerich

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Taking part in the final concert of Kathy Stott’s Piano 2000 festival at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester…all the Rachmaninov Concertos in one evening. I played No.2

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

Fidelity to the score and the communication of the music without personal interference. Meaning is more important than style, yet a sound knowledge of style is also necessary. An interest in all the works of the major composers, not just the piano music.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Apart from playing Schubert and Beethoven, walking on the hills of Scotland and the Lake District, cooking, watching films, and listening to Wagner

With an extraordinary career spanning over 4 decades, Martin Roscoe is unarguably one of the UK’s best loved pianists. Renowned for his versatility at the keyboard, Martin is equally at home in concerto, recital and chamber performances. In an ever more distinguished career, his enduring popularity and the respect in which he is universally held are built on a deeply thoughtful musicianship allied to an easy rapport with audiences and fellow musicians alike.

Read more about Martin Roscoe here

London Piano Festival 2016

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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…… Charles Owen, pianist

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(photo: John Batten)

photo: John Batten

photo: John Batten

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

I gravitated quite instinctively towards the little cottage upright piano which we had at home when I was a child. Neither of my parents are musicians – vicar and teacher respectively – but both love music and encouraged my earliest fumbling attempts at the keyboard!

There was never an actual moment when I decided to pursue a career in music. It all happened very organically from the earliest lessons with a Hampshire County Award teacher  followed by a place at the inspirational Yehudi Menuhin School and then onto the Royal College of Music. I’ve never had any real doubts or regrets about following the musical path

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

Two exceptional pianists have guided my playing and approach to the piano and music making in general:

The wonderful Russian pedagogue Irina Zaritskaya taught me at the RCM in the early 1990s. She revealed and shared her special secrets into achieving pianistic fluency, a huge variety of touches and rich musical imagery. Her warm personality coupled with a generosity of spirit are qualities I remember and treasure.

I later had the privilege of working closely with Imogen Cooper on a wide range of repertoire. Imogen’s focus, intellect and sheer intensity of listening are truly exceptional. She demanded a greater sense of ‘digging deep’ into the scores, really focusing on long lines, balance of sound, projection, colour and style. All of the qualities that make her own playing so memorable and remarkable’

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

For me these are threefold:

Studying, developing and maintaining a huge range of music is a challenge for the vast majority of pianists. Tackling certain epic works such as Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ or Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto stand out in my mind as particularly demanding but immensely rewarding experiences.

The ability to cope with long journeys, strange environments and a wide range of different instruments, whilst always aiming to deliver the best performances is a perennial challenge!

Keeping a sense of long term perspective in one’s aims as a musician. Managing leaner times, dealing with difficult aspects of the music profession, remaining motivated and hopeful whilst keeping the flickering flame of that essential love of music alive and well’

You’ve recently announced the London Piano Festival with your duo partner Katya Apekisheva. Why did you decide to found this festival?

Katya and I have both attended many excellent festivals where various instrumentalists gather together to play chamber music.  In 2011 we were invited to the New Ross Piano Festival in Ireland where the focus was almost exclusively on pianists performing in solo and duo capacities. The atmosphere, camaraderie and sheer quality of the concerts there were very special indeed. 

After this positive experience, we decided to create something similar in the UK and were thrilled when Kings Place in London, with their pair of vibrant, contemporary concert halls, enthusiastically took up our idea. Pianists are destined by the very nature of the instrument to be solitary creatures. We hope to change all that for one dazzling weekend in October!

What are you most looking forward to in the London Piano Festival?

The Two-Piano Gala on the evening of Saturday, October 7th!

This mammoth concert will see the two Kings Place Steinway pianos placed together for an evening of piano duo music drawn almost exclusively from the Twentieth Century repertoire. Seven pianists including Stephen Kovacevich, the doyen of current players, will join forces in various duo formations to explore the riches, complexities and excitement of music for two pianos.  Rachmaninoff, Ravel and a world premiere by the superb American composer Nico Muhly, will all be on the menu.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of? 

It is difficult to be truly proud of any particular performance or recording as so many aspects can always be improved upon.

Having said that, certain concerts where all the elements seem to combine do remain in my memory. Recent positive concert experiences include a Wigmore Hall performance of the Brahms Piano Quintet with the Takács Quartet, the Beethoven concertos at the magical St Endellion Summer Festival in Cornwall and a concert from last summer’s Ryedale Festival where I played the Goldberg Variations to a rapt, packed audience in one of Yorkshire’s grandest stately homes.

In terms of recordings, my have fond memories of a beautiful September weekend in Barnes when I recorded a solo Poulenc disc at St Paul’s School with super views across the Thames. I had just met my partner and was ‘walking on air’ at the time of the sessions. All that was back in 2003!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Another impossibly embarrassing question! If forced to answer, I would mention the Debussy Preludes, Bach Partitas, some of the big Schubert sonatas and of course my beloved Janáček.

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

I am not one of those musicians who has a clear plan for their whole playing career in terms of repertoire. Perhaps I should try to be!

I gravitate towards certain composers and their works rather as you may pick up a book from your packed library shelves. There is a little bit of divination going on here.

My aim is to constantly learn new works, to react to the suggestions of others and to regularly revisit pieces from earlier in life. Returning to these with new experiences and musical knowledge is one of the best aspects of being a full time musician. I’m becoming increasingly interested in contemporary music and feel excited to have recently worked with/recorded music by Jonathan Dove, James Macmillan and Nico Muhly

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

The Wigmore Hall for its sublime acoustics, stunning pianos and sheer history

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Concerto wise, I love to perform any of the five Beethoven, also the Schumann and Bartok’s 3rd. Plenty of two piano works are a thrill to play, particularly Ravel’s La Valse and the Rachmaninoff Suites. As a listener my list is utterly endless –  Bach Brandenburg concertos, Janacek operas, Mahler, Sibelius symphonies, Schubert & Schumann lieder, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Rufus Wainwright…

Who are your favourite musicians?

Alfred Brendel, Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia, Martha Argerich, Andras Schiff, Brigitte Fassbaender, Gerald Finley. Of those no longer with us – Carlos Kleiber, Claudio Abbado, Jacqueline du Pré to name just a handful

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Impossible to select just one! Perhaps the most unexpected was a performance in the South of France at the En Blanc et Noir Festival, Lagrasse where pianists perform in a semi covered, stone market place. I was giving my first ever concert of Liszt’s Anneés de Pelerinage, Switzerland and whilst launching into the octave deluge of ‘Orage’, a genuine summer storm raged overhead complete with crashing thunder and flashes of lightning. Perfect timing, coincidence and choreography!’

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

Commitment, passion, patience and a sense of giving your all to the works of the truly wonderful composers who enrich our lives.

On a practical front, each musician needs to acquire the essential knowledge of musical building blocks – harmonic movement, structure/architecture, a feeling for melodic shaping, precise rhythmic grasp – whilst constantly developing their abilities to listen closely to what is actually coming out of the instrument!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Having clear headspace and a mind free of extraneous worries

What is your most treasured possession?

My 2009 Steinway Model B Piano

The London Piano Festival, a brand new celebration of the piano created by Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen, runs from 7-9 October 2016 at London’s Kings Place. Further information about the festival here

Charles Owen is recognised as one of the finest British pianists of his generation with an extensive series of performances and recordings to his name.

Charles has appeared at London’s Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall and regularly gives recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Kings Place. Internationally he has performed at the Lincoln Center, Weill/Carnegie Hall, the Brahms Saal in Vienna’s Musikverein, the Paris Musée d’Orsay, and the Moscow Conservatoire.

His chamber music partners include Adrian Brendel, Nicholas Daniel, Augustin Hadelich, Chloë Hanslip, Julian Rachlin and Mark Padmore as well as the Carducci, Elias, Takács and Vertavo Quartets. In addition he has an established piano duo partnership with Katya Apekisheva with whom he has recorded the duo versions of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrushka

Charles studied in London at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Royal College of Music with Irina Zaritskaya and later furthered his studies with Imogen Cooper and Valeria Szervánszky. He has won numerous awards, including the Silver Medal at the Scottish International Piano Competition (1995) and the 1997 Parkhouse Award with the violinist Katharine Gowers. A regular guest at many leading festivals such as Aldeburgh, Bath, Cheltenham, Leicester and West Cork , Charles has also performed concertos with the Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National, London Philharmonic and the Moscow State Academic Symphony orchestras.

Charles’ solo recordings include discs of piano music by Janácek, Poulenc and the complete Nocturnes and Barcarolles by Fauré. Together with Natalie Clein, he has recorded cello and piano sonatas by Brahms, Schubert Rachmaninov and Chopin for EMI.

Charles Owen is a Professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

www.charlesowen.net

Meet the Artist……Hugo Ticciati

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

To be honest there was no great epiphany or moment of inspiration, it just always felt like I was meant to be making music – exactly how and in what form is still wonderfully open … tomorrow is a new day and will bring with it new inspiration.

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

Everything and everyone we encounter seeps into our being and becomes a part of our fabric, not least musical. When we give a name to the ‘most important’ influences there is always the danger that we forget the ‘very minor influences’, whose accumulation pave the indispensable road. Having said this, there are two remarkably special people who have shaped my playing and my life, and to whom I am eternally grateful: my mentor and teacher Nina Balabina and – on a more ethereal plane – Mahatma Gandhi.

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

Not to pursue one.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

Life has taught me not to look back but rather, in the spirit of forgetfulness, learn to live in the present, so I hope you do not mind if I pass on this question.

Which particular works do you think you perform best? 

More than anything I feel at home performing contemporary music or music from the last century, often in unusual and improvisatory combinations with older music.

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

I love having a large variety of works during a season both in style and genre. I try and create a balance between works I have played many times and into which I can delve deeper; new repertoire pieces; newly commissioned works; and finally works that will challenge different aspects of my playing and musical personality and which will hopefully open me up to new musical spaces.

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

For me it is more than anything the energy of the audience that makes a concert special. Therefore I love performing in any space that encourages a bubbling sharing of energies. Then, there are of course the ‘great’ halls that have their unique aura, filled with the sounds of past legends – it is a great privilege to be able to stand and add ones own little sounds to such spaces.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

My tastes are rather eclectic and vary from day to day, from season to season. Some days I love the melancholic strains of Byrd and Josquin, on other days the romantic drama of Strauss, while Bach is always close at hand to cleanse the soul. I may also get immersed in the epic melodrama of Muse or the contemplative strains of Indian music.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Oh dear, this could be a very long list! Two personalities that immediately come to mind our David Oistrakh and Ravi Shankar.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

Playing to monks in the Himalayas.

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

Always LOVE every minute of what you are doing and learn to totally immerse yourself in the process, not worrying too much about where it will lead and what the resulting outcome will be.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

I experience perfect happiness when I get so lost in what I am doing, which happens most often when I am performing, that all time – past and future – seems to converge on the singularity of the present moment, bringing with it a surreal combination of overwhelming peace and the feeling of ecstasy.

Hugo Ticciati performs with Dame Evelyn Glennie at Kings Place on 27th April, and directs the Festival O/MODERNT in Stockholm from 10th to 16th June, centred on Handel and the Art of Borrowing. 

Festival O/MODERNT

Hugo Ticciati is a violinist with a uniquely intellectual approach to his work, incorporating aspects of literature, philosophy, spirituality and meditation. He embraces the world of contemporary music, collaborating with composers such as Sven-David Sandström, Albert Schnelzer, Anders Hillborg, Djuro Zivkovic, Leonardo Coral, Andrea Tarrodi, Tobias Broström, Thomas Jennefelt, Sergey N. Evtushenko, Esaias Järnegard, Wijnand van Klaveren. In the coming seasons he will be performing world premières of concertos dedicated to him in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Hugo also loves devising concerts and events that combine music with dance, literature and more obscure arts such as kinetic painting and rock balancing.

Last season’s highlights included concertos by Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev, Schnittke, Hartmann, Shchedrin, Piazzolla, Auerbach, Glass, Lutosławski, Takemitsu and world premieres of concertos by Tobias Broström, Sergey N. Evtushenko and Albert Schnelzer in venues including Carnegie Hall, Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall and King’s Place. He also curated a series of concerts at the Wigmore Hall and the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam.

Read more about Hugo Ticciati

(Photo credit: Marco Borggreve)

Meet the Artist……Mark Swartzentruber, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up piano, and pursue a career in music?
I started with a local teacher, Art Richards, an amateur who loved music deeply. He gave me freedom to develop at my own pace, and in my own way. After a few years, I found that I could play more advanced repertoire, and it became self-motivating. I went on to study with Paul Strouse, who had been a pupil of Nadia Boulanger and Wanda Landowska. He demanded much more discipline and gave me a more well rounded musical education, preparing me for music school auditions.

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

My teachers, John Ogdon, Michel Block and Maria Curcio. Ursula Corning, a wonderful patron, sponsored my first recordings. Her support also enabled me to give my London debut recital.

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

To balance practicing, teaching, performing and the promotional/admin side of the business.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I’m pleased with all the recordings I have released so far, but especially Scarlatti and Debussy.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Anything that I feel I have a clear and personal vision of.

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

I choose pieces to play based on trying to form balanced programmes, largely with core repertoire, circulating old, familiar works with pieces that are new and fresh for me.

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

In London it’s a toss up between Wigmore Hall, for its intimacy and history, and Kings Place, for its clear, detailed acoustics and fabulous design.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I always enjoy programming Beethoven Sonatas. In each one there are awkward, angular passages, but his genius makes them works that are greater than they can be performed.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Anyone who plays with focus and integrity, pretty much in any genre.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Playing Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata outdoors at the Holloway Arts Festival in London. The piano was amplified on a powerful PA system. As I tried to play quietly the sound technicians kept cranking the volume up. So when the sudden fortissimo passages came the dynamic was ear-splitting. I was told the piano could be heard three miles away.

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

Keep your musical standards high and concentrate.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Maintaining a steady 2 or 3 percent improvement every day.

Mark Swartzentruber performs music by Bach, Ravel and Schubert at Kings Place, London on Wednesday 2nd March. Further details here

Mark Swartzentruber has performed throughout Europe, the USA and East Asia. London appearances include solo recitals at the South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and St John’s Smith Square. He has performed live on BBC Radio 3. He has also appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Classic FM.

Mark Swartzentruber studied under John Ogdon in the United States before moving to London to work with Maria Curcio, the eminent protégé of Artur Schnabel. A committed teacher and educator, he maintains a vibrant private practice. He is an external examiner and adjudicator for the Guildhall School of Music and was formerly a teacher at the Royal College of Music, Junior Department. He has given masterclasses and has adjudicated competitions in Britain, Ireland, the United States and Korea.

Swartzentruber’s début album, of Schubert Sonatas, was released by Sony to critical acclaim. Shortly afterwards he co-founded Solo Records, an independent label. His CDs, of Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann and Debussy piano works, have all earned excellent reviews in the international music press.

As a broadcaster, Mark Swartzentruber appeared weekly on BBC Radio 3’s Sunday Morning programme, presenting historic recordings, as well as producing the show. He has also had music features commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4.

www.markswartzentruber.com

 

 

Aurora Orchestra presents Mozart’s Piano at King’s Place

A chance to experience all of Mozart’s piano concertos. Not just the famous, much-loved ones, but all 27 of them, from his earliest forays of the form when he was still a boy to his mature late works. I was delighted to be invited to the launch lunch for this exciting new series at Kings Place and to have the opportunity to discuss it further with those involved, from the CEO and creator of Kings Place, Peter Millican, to the Chief Executive of the Aurora Orchestra, John Harte, conductor Nicholas Collon and members of the orchestra, including the indefatigable and endlessly creative principal violist Max Baillie.

As Resident Orchestra, Aurora collaborates with Kings Place to launch Mozart’s Piano in January 2016 – a five-year journey built around a complete cycle of the Mozart piano concertos. A onceinageneration opportunity for audiences to hear the whole cycle performed live by the same orchestra in single venue, this 25concert odyssey takes Mozart’s life, music and legacy as the starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey across centuries and musical styles in the company of a spectacular roster of guest soloists. 2016 will see the first seven concertos performed by pianists including John Butt (16 January), Robert Levin (23 April 2016), Cédric Tiberghien (17 September 2016), Lara MeldaMartin James Bartlett (both 16 December 2016), and Aurora’s own John Reid (19 March 2016), alongside a rich tapestry of other music from CPE  Bach to Peter Maxwell Davies via Haydn, Schubert and Ravel. Alongside Mozart’s Piano, Aurora also launches The LockIn – a linked informal late-­night series in Hall Two at Kings Place, offering audiences a chance to rub shoulders with the performers, and hear them follow the musical explorations of the main evening programmes in new and unexpected directions. (source: press release)

It is was deliberate decision on the part of the orchestra and creators of this series to have a wide variety of pianists involved in the concerts. Of course, no series focussing on Mozart and the piano would be complete with a contribution from pianist and noted Mozart scholar Robert Levin. Levin performs two concertos, Nos. 3 and 4, in a concert entitled Child’s Play on 23rd April 2016, and will be exploring Mozart’s talent for boundless and inventive improvisation. However, some of the pianists selected for the series may not, on first sight, seem natural Mozart players, and this aspect will add special interest and excitement of the series. By selecting young artists as well as more established and well-known musicians, new insights and angles on Mozart’s piano concertos will be revealed, with each musician bringing their own special voice and viewpoint to the music.

This a unique opportunity for total immersion in Mozart’s piano concertos and marks a significant, long-term project and investment by the Aurora Orchestra. It promises to be an exciting, stimulating and revealing series.

Further information and tickets here

 

Word/Play – Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts with Lucy Parham & Friends

Sunday morning coffee concerts devised
 by pianist Lucy Parham
Kings Place (Hall One), London N1

Following the success of the 2014/15 season of Word/Play, pianist Lucy Parham returns to Kings Place for another series of regular Sunday morning Coffee Concerts. Described by BBC Music Magazine as “one of the must-see events on the musical calendar”, the series celebrates the relationship between words and music, whilst exploring a variety of composers, genres and styles. 

‘I am delighted to present a third series of the Word/Play Coffee Concerts with my colleague, Lisa Peacock. I have always loved the combination of words and music and have tried to combine them both in a unique way for each concert. From the Celebrity Gala, via Just William, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, I hope there will something for everyone to enjoy on a Sunday morning.’ – Lucy Parham

The series starts on Sunday 6th December, when Lucy will be joined by actors, writers, comedians and journalists for a morning of fun at the piano in the Word/ Play Celebrity Christmas Gala. The pianists will be performing from Schumann’s Album für die Jugend (Album for the Young), Op. 68, plus some festive surprises.

The line-up for the Christmas Gala:

Edward Fox actor

William Sharman Team GB athlete

Alistair McGowan actor

Sarah Walker BBC Radio 3 presenter

Alan Rusbridger former Editor, The Guardian and author of Play It Again

Richard Ingrams former Editor, The Oldie

Conrad Williams author

Stephen Boxer actor

Patricia Hodge actor

Niamh Cusack actor

Anneka Rice broadcaster
Cathy Newman Channel 4 News presenter

David Pickard Director, BBC Proms

Barry Wordsworth conductor, Special Guest

Further names to be announced

Iain Burnside presenter

Joanna David narrator
Lucy Parham piano

The Coffee Concert series continues on January 24 with Just William, Jarvis and Jeeves. Martin Jarvis, back by popular demand, brings his dazzling story telling gifts to Kings Place once again.   In The Outlaws and the Triplets, 11-year old William Brown finds himself masquerading as the elder brother of a trio of tots, and in the hilarious Jeeves and The Song of Songs, Jarvis (as ‘Bertie Wooster’) tells of a preposterously unpredictable musical entertainment. The musical accompaniment to both stories is composed and performed by the brilliant Richard Sisson.

Sunday 7 February sees A Morning with Beethoven: John Lill and John Suchet. Following their sell-out performance last season, internationally acclaimed pianist John Lill and Classic FM presenter and Beethoven biographer John Suchet will discuss the music and life of Beethoven, with John Lill performing two more popular Beethoven sonatas – No. 22 in F, followed by the No. 32 in C minor.

On the 6 March, national treasure Alan Titchmarsh shares his green-fingered love for all things horticultural in The Glory of the Garden, with readings from his own writings and others. Pianist and composer Richard Sisson joins him as the programme unfolds, including gems by Tchaikovsky, Chaminade and Billy Mayerl.

Known internationally for her ‘composer portraits’ in words and music, pianist Lucy Parham has created a new programme that chronicles the life of Sergei Rachmaninov –  Élégie: Rachmaninov, A Heart in Exile. Though he became an exile 1917, Russia remained deeply rooted in his soul. Rachmaninov’s cultural identity and his longing for his homeland imbue his music, not least the many much-loved works he wrote for his own instrument, the piano. In this Coffee Concert version Lucy Parham will be joined by renowned actor, Henry Goodman.

Venue: Hall One, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

Box Office:  020 7520 1490 / www.kingsplace.co.uk

Meet the Artist……Lucy Parham