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Thursday 11 April 2019

Countdown to The Portfolio Pianist - 18th April 2019

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World-renowned musicians explain their craft

Only a week to go to The Portfolio Pianist, a superlative day of concerts and talks featuring Pascal Rogé, Iain Burnside, Roderick Williams OBE, Steven Osborne, the Alan Benzie Trio, Simon Smith and Susan Tomes who will each share their expertise through a series of performances, recitals and talks exploring the different facets of being a pianist. They will be joined in performances by pupils from St Mary's Music School, the Music Department of Douglas Academy and RCS Junior Conservatoire, playing before an audience of teachers and aspiring young pianists. 

An illustration of versatility 

The event is the brainchild of John Cameron, Head of Keyboard at St Mary's Music School,

"Not so long ago the advice for young musicians, in preparation for a life of music-making, was to specialise. Nowadays, for the aspiring musician, flexibility, with a willingness to engage with all areas of teaching and performing is highly prized. Someone who has developed confidence in all aspects of their work, through experimentation and learning, as well as a positive outlook, is a far more attractive proposition for a potential employer in these difficult times for a performing musician. This is an approach we take in our teaching at St Mary's Music School and we are delighted that by welcoming such eminent artists to speak and perform in the Portfolio Pianist, we can encourage other young people and their teachers to understand more about the breadth of skills of today's most successful musicians."

When first mooting the idea of the event John Cameron was overwhelmed by the positive response and enthusiasm to be involved by each of the musicians he approached; together they bring a huge breadth of experience and knowledge as performers, writers, broadcasters and recording artists. 

A varied programme exploring the multiple facets of life as a professional pianist 

On the day, eminent French pianist Pascal Rogé will be performing Debussy, Satie and Ravel and will also lead the Nigel Murray Masterclass 2019, working with aspiring young professional pianists from St Mary's Music School and RCS Junior Conservatoire

Pianist, writer, broadcaster and programmer Iain Burnside will give an illustrated recital with baritone Roderick Williams OBE, entitled 'The Collaborative Pianist'. Williams won the Singer of the Year Award in the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and was awarded the OBE for services to music in June 2017. He performs a wide repertoire, from baroque to contemporary music, in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital. 

And with a flavour of jazz, Alan Benzie, winner of the BBC Scotland Young Jazz Musician at only 17 and picked out as one of the UK’s most exciting young talents will be performing with the Alan Benzie Trio.  2015 saw the release of Alan’s debut album 'Traveller’s Tales', recorded with his working trio of friends and long-time collaborators Andrew Robb on bass, and Marton Juhasz on drums. (Andrew is Head of the Jazz Programme at St Mary's Music School and is also a former pupil.) The trio released their second album 'Little Mysteries" in 2018, with an extensive European and UK tour, and subsequently won Best Album in the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards.

Pianist and writer Susan Tomes will be giving a talk on 'The Pianist as Chamber Musician'. Tomes has won numerous international awards as a pianist, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio, including the 2013 Cobbett Medal for distinguished service to chamber music. She's the author of five books and has made over fifty CDs of solo and chamber music, winning awards in several countries. She is 'a pianist who combines a rock solid technique with a rare ability to communicate her deep understanding of the music she plays. With little fuss, Susan Tomes distils the essence of a piece of music into its purest form in the most profound and moving way.'Scotsman, 11.2.17.

Celebrated musician and Vice-President of St Mary's Music School, Steven Osborne, will give a talk 'The Solo Pianist' as well as performing. From his early days as a pupil at St Mary's Music School today Steven is 'one of Britain’s most treasured musicians whose insightful and idiomatic interpretations of diverse repertoire show an immense musical depth.' His numerous awards include The Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year (2013) and two Gramophone Awards. 
Some pianists gild everything they touch with their own personality; some are like chameleons, finding a new colour for each composer. Last night the wonderful Scottish pianist Steven Osborne did both, which lent the whole evening a miraculous air…every note seemed to vibrate with intelligence” The Daily Telegraph, 8 Feb 2016

St Mary's Music School alumnus Simon Smith, will be playing and giving a talk 'The Composer Pianist'. Acclaimed as ‘a phenomenon – nothing daunts him, technically or musically’ (The Scotsman), Simon studied piano with Richard Beauchamp and composition with Tom David Wilson at St Mary's Music School At Cambridge University he studied composition with Jeremy Thurlow and Giles Swayne.

As a pianist he has performed many of the landmarks of the twentieth-century piano repertoire, and in addition to his performances and recordings with Delphian Records he continues to compose, mostly for orchestra. 

Thank you to our supporters

This phenomenal day has been made possible through the generosity of our supporters and donors and in particular Gavin Gemmell and the bequest of Nigel Murray. Tickets were made available, free of charge, to teachers and young pianists throughout Scotland. 

The day is full but if you would like to find out about future, similar events then please register to receive our e-news. 

Colin Currie Percussion Masterclass - May 27th 2019 

The next professional masterclass is by the superb percussionist Colin Currie. This is a free event for teachers and young percussionists and will be held at the Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow. To book your place click here. 

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