What inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?

I loved the sound of the cembalo (harpsichord) very much when I was a child. Having no musical background whatsoever, my parents sent me to a local music school, where I was told that I would need to learn some piano before I could learn the cembalo. I fell in love with the piano immediately and quickly forgot about Bach’s harpsichord concertos!

In my teenage years, playing the piano was the activity I loved most. Nobody had to tell me that I should practice. As soon as I came home from school, I ran to my piano and played for hours. My time at the piano was quite evenly split between playing classical music and improvising or composing my own music. When I was discovered by a manager at age fifteen, I knew already that music would always be my main career, although my role as an interpreter of classical music – mainly of the romantic repertoire – was outweighing my activities as a composer at that time.

After two intensive years of touring and recording, I felt burned out. The growing success as a concert pianist had no positive impact on my happiness at all, quite to the contrary: I felt more and more isolated, and it became clear to me that I could not ignore my need to compose any longer. My manager considered my compositions as some kind of private hobby, but to me it was much more. As much as I love the music by the great masters, and as much as I enjoy playing it, composing (and performing) my own music had to come first. It was a difficult decision, since my possibilities as a soloist seemed to be endless and so many promising opportunities were at my fingertips. But I did what I had to do as an artist: I withdrew from the traditional career as concert pianist and immersed myself into the development of my musical language.

Who or what were the most important influences on your composing?

Being so well acquainted with the romantic repertoire, the music of Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninov and Scriabin definitely had a strong influence on my early style. But since I am a child of the 20th century, I have also drawn inspiration from pop and rock music, maybe also a little bit from jazz music. When I discovered Keith Jarrett’s solo concerts and Arvo Pärt’s music in the late nineties, I was deeply moved by the sheer beauty that was still “allowed” in our time. My educational background had suggested to me that contemporary music had to be disharmonic, to put it politely, and I never cared for serialism and all the cacophony that followed. So, essentially, I am in constant search for truth and beauty in my music. My love for Gregorian chant, religious choral music and my Catholic faith have a great influence not only on my compositional style, but also on my understanding of music as a whole.

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

When the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz asked me to compose piano accompaniments for the follow-up of their hugely successful album ‘Chant – Music for Paradise’, I did not want to mess up. They were putting “their” sacred chants into my hands and let me interpret them! In plainchant you have so much freedom and detachment from clearly definable emotions in the sense that have become so accustomed to over the last centuries. It is indeed the most universal and pure musical language on our planet. Putting a piano part underneath it would naturally interpret the chants in some direction. Through hard work and constant rewriting of many passages I found a very personal, yet worthy and unsentimental style for these pieces. The monks liked them so much that they commissioned another four chants for their latest album ‘Chant – Stabat Mater’, which was released  recently.

Which compositions are you most proud of?

Many of my choir pieces are very special to me. Unfortunately, not many of them have been performed so far, which makes me all the more excited that the wonderful Platinum Consort under the direction of Scott Inglis-Kidger will sing the world premiere of my ‘Consecration Prayer’ on 16th November, which is a very personal composition of mine. I am also very happy with my piano piece ‘Obsculta’ and the really beautiful video that my friend Vitùc created for it.

Who are your favorite musicians?

At the moment I am very fond of so many magnificent British choirs: Tenebrae, The Sixteen, Polyphony, Platinum Consort, to name a few. You really are blessed with a unique choral tradition in England!

There are countless pianists that I admire and love, but if I had to pick one, it would be Dinu Lipatti. I love his unpretentious and pure musicianship. I try to follow this role model, and I have never liked musicians who take themselves too seriously and want to be more important than the music. It is the musician’s duty to serve the music, not the opposite.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I was crying from beginning to the end when I attended my first live performance of Bach’s B minor Mass in Luxembourg ten years ago. I have never been so moved by a piece of music. It was then that I realised that there is no such thing as old or new music. If music is true, it is timeless and will always reveal a glimpse of eternity to us mortal beings.

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

For the interpreter:

  • Never take yourself too seriously.
  • Always play with open ears and an open heart.
  • Look for the essence behind the notes and remain faithful to the text.
  • Find your personal sound by pursuing meaning rather than virtuosity.
  • Practice hard and value technical exercises and scales. They help you to become better servants of the music you love.

If you’re a composer:

  • Compose with open ears and an open heart.
  • Look for the essence inside your musical ideas and omit what can be left.
  • Let the music write itself by listening as deep as you can.
  • Always question your work. If it can still be improved, don’t shy away from the work.
  • Study the masters, again and again, but be yourself when you compose.

What are you working on at the moment?

I practice Brahms’ Cello Sonata in E minor for a performance with a very special young talent next week. After that I will orchestrate my children’s opera ‘The Little Gnome’ which will be premiered on 19th January in Luxembourg. And I expect the master CD of my new solo album ‘Prayers of Silence’ (which I recorded in August) to be ready any day soon, so I will definitely spend some time with listening and preparing the publication of my most important album so far. In December I will play Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, a piece that is not in my repertoire yet, so I’ll have to practice a lot in November.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness is a gift of the moment and it wouldn’t be special if it were a constant state of being. That being said, I can say that I suffer from failures and bad moments like everyone else, but I am also regularly blessed with happiness when I compose or when I play the piano. But the most blissful moments are those that I spend with my family and especially with my three little children. I should also mention that I find peace in prayer, and it is the hidden driving force of my life.

David Ianni’s ‘Consecration Prayer’ receives its world premiere in a concert by Platinum Consort, under the direction of Scott Inglis-Kidger, on Friday 16th November. Further information and booking here

David Ianni was born in Luxembourg in 1979. He was accepted in the piano class of Daniel Feis in the Conservatoire d’Esch-sur-Alzette at the age of nine. At fifteen, he completed his piano diploma in Luxembourg with a “Premier Prix avec grande distinction”. He continued his studies in London at the Purcell School and later with Tatiana Sarkissova, teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. He also studied with Dimitri Bashkirov, Anatol Ugorski, Radu Lupu and Dirk Joeres. In 2005, he completed his studies with Tonie Ehlen at the Maastricht Conservatory.

After winning a number of prizes in national and international competitions, the sixteen-year-old musician began a career as a concert pianist, performing solo recitals as well as with orchestras in many European countries, India and Japan. His debut CD, with works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, was released in 1997. In 1999, the recording ‘Theodor Kirchner: Piano Music’ followed.

Since 1998, David Ianni has increasingly dedicated himself to composing his own works. He has written about 100 works, including the oratorio ‘Abraham’s Children’, ‘Pater Noster’ for piano and orchestra, a children’s opera, a string quartet, chamber music as well as numerous choral and piano compositions, which have been performed in Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, India and Japan.

David Ianni’s album Night Prayers with his own piano compositions was published in 2011.

That same year he composed and recorded the piano accompaniments for the album Chant – Amor et Passio by the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, which was awarded a Platinum award in Austria. In 2012 the monks commissioned David to compose and play four chant accompaniments for their album Chant – Stabat Mater.

His new solo album ‘Prayers of Silence’ will be released by Obsculta Music.


Choral octet Platinum Consort made their King’s Hall debut with an impressive and impeccably prepared concert of music for, or inspired by, the Tenebrae tradition. Read my full review here.

My Meet the Artist interviews with Platinum’s founder/director Scott Inglis-Kidger and Composer-in-Residence, Richard Bates.


Image credit: Platinum Consort © Edward Carr

Richard Bates, composer & conductor (photo credit: Scott Inglis-Kidger)

Who or what inspired you to take up composing and make it your career? 

I would say that composing chose me, rather than the other way round. Almost as soon as I started learning to play piano, I started coming up with music of my own when I was bored of the pieces set me by my teacher. I always listened to classical music a lot as a youngster. And as a teenager, I suppose my writing mirrored what I was listening to – Beethoven in my early teens then later, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Poulenc, Morton Feldman…

Who or what were the most important influences on your composing? 

As I say, I always listened to music growing up, and I was lucky enough that my piano teacher in those years was interested in furthering the scope of my musical knowledge, and gave me music and recordings to explore that I otherwise would not have chosen. These expanded my horizons considerably. A great favourite of mine is Francis Poulenc, whose unique and instantly recognizable style really caught my interest. I also owe a great debt of gratitude to Michael Finnissy and Giles Swayne, who taught me my compositional craft, the guts to write what I want to write, the intricate skill of orchestration, and how to express what you hear with the instruments you have.

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

When I graduated from Cambridge, I thought: “nobody makes a living from writing music, and the world doesn’t really need another composer anyhow”, so I followed another passion of mine and went into music direction for theatre – leading pit bands and singers. Over the years since, I have taken every professional composing opportunity that arose for me, but it was only really embarking on Platinum Consort’s recording of my Tenebrae and commission In The Dark, and their subsequent commercial success, which exceeded my hopes, never mind my expectations, and that really convinced me writing music could be a viable life for me.

Which compositions are you most proud of?  

Of the works of mine that have been premiered so far, probably the Tenebrae are my favourite. I took a good deal of trouble to get each response just right, and the weaving of Renaissance-style counterpoint to create 21st-century harmonies was the biggest skill I had to master. I’m very proud of the result, and feel this is one of my most significant works to date.

Favourite pieces to listen to? 

I’m sure it’s a very infuriating answer, but I’m not the sort of person who has a clear favourite. It will depend on my mood and what I’m doing at the time. I also admire music for different reasons: some pieces are guilty pleasures – pieces which are not fantastically put together, but mean a great deal to me either because of their ambience, or a personal significance; other pieces are good for my musical health – pieces I admire because they are so perfectly ingenious in their construction or employ compositional tricks I can’t help but wish I’d thought of.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Again, I’m going to be annoying and fudge that question and say it depends. I suppose my single, favourite group, is the Platinum Consort, for whom I was recently named Composer in Residence. I have worked with them over a long period, which is unusual in the music business, and have developed a very honest and open relationship with them and their director Scott Inglis-Kidger. I have great admiration for the dedication and skill they employ, and they in turn give me whatever feedback they honestly feel, without fear of my taking offence or umbrage. But I also have a great deal of admiration for the singers and musicians I work with in my conducting career, who turn up night after night and deliver consistently great performances.

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

Stephen Sondheim once said that composition without craft is just masturbation. I agree. Without craft, and I would add discipline, you’re just improvising. That’s fun in the sense that you sit at your piano and think: “aren’t I jolly clever to be able to sit here and come up with this”, but the interest of what you come up with soon fades unless there’s a supporting framework. Musical ideas in themselves have little power; it’s their juxtaposition that gives them strength to move listeners. This is the message I would like to convey to my 14 year old self.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Two things: a motet setting of the plainchant Veni Veni Emmanuel for double choir and semi-chorus for the Platinum Consort; and The Vigil, a work for choir, soloists and orchestra – it’s a meditation on the stations of the cross – for Thomas’s Choral Society in London.

What is your present state of mind?

Relaxed. I am on holiday, just doing some writing, and unconstrained by the iPhone ringing or having to go out later and conduct a musical.

What is your most treasured possession? 

My steel tipped conductor’s baton. It’s the perfect weight and length for me, and the polished steel tip catches the light beautifully in darkened theatres and ball-rooms, so the musicians can see my beat. It’s also been around with me quite a few years.

Richard Bates was born and raised in London. He was educated as a music scholar at Winchester College and Cambridge University. He studied composition with Michael Finnissy and Giles Swayne, as well as participating in seminars with John Woolrich, Howard Skempton and John Rutter.

Upon graduation, Richard was appointed organist at the church of St Magnus The Martyr in the City of London, a position he held until 2008 when he moved to be Director of Music at Holy Trinity, Northwood. Richard also pursues a wide range of activities in the British and USA musical theatre and cabaret scenes. He is in demand as a conductor and accompanist and recently made his band‐leading debut in New York City.

Richard was officially appointed Composer in Residence to the Platinum Consort in 2012, after having written for the ensemble on an informal basis for a number of years. His music featured on their album In The Dark was described by BBC Music Magazine as “particularly impressive”, and the Observer said “Bates…knows how to raise hairs on the back of the neck with his smoky eight‐part writing”. 

Keep an eye on www.richardbatesmusic.com and @richbatesmusic on Twitter for details, premieres and performances coming up this Autumn and into 2013.

Platinum Consort will be performing at King’s Place, London, on Saturday 1st September, in a concert which features Richard Bates’ In the Dark. Further information here.

“Pristine tonal balance and pure tuning…intimate music-making…sensitively sung…vigorously projected”  

A chance to hear Platinum Concert in a promotional film for their debut CD ‘In the Dark (Resonus Classics). Platinum Consort was founded in 2005 by Claire Jaggers and Scott Inglis-Kidger, a recent Meet the Artist interviewee. Their debut recording (on the Resonus Classics label), which juxtaposes early and modern choral music, is available now, and has already received high praise in the music press.

Platinum Consort will be performing at King’s Place on Saturday 1st September. Further information on their website:

Platinum Consort

My interview with Scott Inglis-Kidger


Recent Meet the Artist interviewee Scott Inglis-Kidger and Platinum Consort are very proud to announce the release of their debut album, In The Dark.

Platinum Consort (Image Credit: Edward Carr)

To download:
iTunes: http://bit.ly/M1QDHi
Amazon: http://amzn.to/LRjwZo
Resonus: http://bit.ly/Ls8IN8

Featuring some of the most powerful and poignant choral music to come from the western world, the Platinum Consort presents a survey of works from the Sixteenth Century to the present day – including James MacMillan’s stunning Miserere and Tenebrae settings by the consort’s composer-in-residence Richard Bates, as well as In The Dark composed by Bates especially for this recording.

Platinum Consort – Live at Kings Place
Saturday, 1st September 2012 – 7:30pm
Box Office: 020 7520 1490
Online Tickets: http://bit.ly/MYOD3m

Scott Inglis-Kidger (photograph: Clive Boursnell)

Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and make it your career?

My first inspiration was my music teacher, Matthew Grehan-Bradley. He had a meticulous attention to detail which inspired me in my own pursuit of perfection. He took a small group of us to Prague to sing Palestrina masses; this was when I decided to become a countertenor. The second and most influential musician in my life is Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. It was a privilege to sing in this marvellous choir in my final year at Cambridge. I was enthralled by Stephen’s conducting during a performance of Handel’s Messiah, and from then on I knew I wanted to be a conductor.

Who or what were the most important influences on your conducting?

I have always admired the work of Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen and John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir. These immensely successful ensembles were founded during university days by conductors who had a vision, not only for the performance of renaissance and baroque music, but also for the growth of the ensembles. It was this which encouraged me to form Platinum Consort, which I co-founded with Claire Jaggers. I am now beginning to realise my dream with a professional ensemble of singers, a boys’ choir and thriving diary of choral workshops.

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

The greatest challenge so far has been leaving the security of my post as a school Director of Music. Teaching was such a valuable experience in terms of mastering the art of positive reinforcement, essential for children and adults alike. I also learnt a lot about management. I like to think of myself as being quite entrepreneurial, and the experience of managing a busy team of music teachers was crucial in building the ‘business’ side of Platinum. I knew I would miss the children and my staffroom colleagues but now that I am a fully freelance conductor I realise it was the right thing to do.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

I will never forget conducting my very first Platinum Consort concert in 2005. I had little experience in programming and managed to cram 15 of the most difficult pieces of choral music (Gesualdo featuring heavily) and a new mass setting by my friend Richard Bates into 90 minutes. It was a learning curve, to say the least, but I still listen to the recording and I am very proud of the amazing sounds we created. In terms of my latest activities, I am immensely proud of Platinum’s debut album In The Dark which will be released later this year. It represents the journey of Platinum over the last seven years. In many ways, it really doesn’t feel like a debut!

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

One of my most treasured places to perform is the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge. It is one of the oldest chapels in the university and has the most sublime acoustic, perfectly suited to the early and early-inspired choral repertoire. Having said that, I am very excited to be performing in the newest concert hall in London. The interior of Hall One at Kings Place was created with wood from a single oak tree. This makes for a pretty awesome atmosphere! I will conduct Platinum Consort there later in 2012 and also in 2013 as part of their series of concerts.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

At the moment they are James MacMillan’s Miserere and Gesualdo’s Tristis est anima mea. The MacMillan is ecstatically beautiful and the Gesualdo wonderfully perverse. In fact I am listening to Tristis now against a backdrop of thunder and lightening. Both will feature on our debut album In The Dark.

Who are your favourite musicians?

In the early music field I have a massive soft spot for soprano Dame Emma Kirkby and baroque violinist Rachel Podger. Their performances are spirited and free from constraint, something every musician strives for. My favourite choir at the moment is the young British ensemble, Stile Antico.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I conducted my first Handel Messiah in November 2011. I had the combined forces of Thomas’s Choral Society, Saraband Consort and a stunning line up of soloists, all housed in a precariously packed Holy Trinity, Sloane Square. We have all heard a hundred renditions of the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus but this one was different – it was ‘Scott’s Way’. I will never forget it.

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

As a singer myself – and someone who was politely told at primary school he was tone deaf – I encourage everyone to realise the potential in their own voice, whether they are children, amateurs or professionals. The crucial thing I realised from a very early stage in my career is that there should be no distinction between these three types of musician. Imparting good vocal technique and unbounded passion and enthusiasm is crucial across the board. Something I impart to the young choristers of Platinum Boys’ Choir is the importance of them carrying on a deeply rooted tradition. Choral singing is alive and well, but could disappear as easily as it was invented. The only constant is the walls in which we sing.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just completed a very busy two months, including Platinum’s first commercial recording project and a Boys’ Choir tour to Venice. I have a number of workshops to look forward to in London as well as our very first workshop – Vivat – in Durham on 2nd June, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I am conducting a very special concert in May to launch Platinum Choral Foundation and later this year I am looking forward to the release of our album and appearing at Kings Place.

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

In 10 years’ time I would like to be recording a new album several times per year, performing in festivals in the UK and abroad, and for Platinum Consort to have recognition as being amongst the top choral groups in world. I would also like to have thriving Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs along with a young singers’ scheme, creating a path for talented young singers to realise their potential.

What is your most treasured possession?

Apart from my Apple Mac, which I couldn’t function without, my most treasured possession is a signet ring passed down to me by my grandmother. I wear it for good luck when I’m conducting.

Scott Inglis-Kidger is a conductor and vocal coach based in London. He is Founder and Director of Platinum Consort and Director of Music for Thomas’s Choral Society. He read Music at the University of Cambridge, where he sang as a countertenor in the world famous King’s College Choir. In addition to conducting, Scott directs many workshops around the country and is much in demand as a vocal coach for individuals and groups, and as an early music specialist. He was previously Director of Music at Willington Independent Preparatory School and Thomas’s Preparatory School, Battersea, establishing highly regarded liturgical choirs in both schools.

Platinum Consort was founded by Scott Inglis-Kidger and Claire Jaggers in 2005. The consort specialises in bringing vibrancy to early music, as well as breathing life into newly commissioned pieces. Originating at the University of Cambridge, the consort attracted singers from the renowned choirs of St John’s, Jesus, Trinity and King’s Colleges. Now a professional vocal octet, Platinum Consort boasts some of the best young singers in London. The group has an affinity with the music of composer Richard Bates and recently premiered his Tenebrae Responsories. Platinum also comprises a Boys’ Choir which aims to be one of the best of its kind in the UK. In addition to this our Choral Workshops provide a wealth of opportunities for singers who wish to explore glorious repertoire in smaller groups. You can find out more at: