Archive for June, 2009

Elgar with Tortelier

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

What a treat to be playing the Elgar concerto with Yan Pascal Tortelier. He is a great conductor and accompanist himself, but what made it very special is that his late father, Paul Tortelier, was one of the greatest cellists of the twentieth century. Paul was the cellist who I first got to know and fall in love with as a child growing up in Sheffield where he played regularly, both with the Halle and in recital. I remember very well his wonderful spirit, wit and personality that, even to a young kid, just poured off the stage. I went backstage several times to get his autograph when only 9/10 years old, and remember vividly that on his cello case handle was an enormous wadge of airline tags – probably 30 or 40 of them in a great bundle, and I thought that was really cool. I also saw him playing trios with his son playing violin.

So it is a rare pleasure and honour to now be making music with Pascal. He has his father’s charisma, and a wonderful sense of who he is as a musician that makes it fun to work with him.

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Back in Australia

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

It’s great to be back here. Somehow these trips are always extra exciting: being back here reminds me of the last time I was in Melbourne, 2 years ago, when I arrived in a mobile home after a 3,000-mile trip through the outback from Brisbane – fantastic! This time I’m here for a week at the Australian National Academy of Music, locally known as anam, and then some Elgar Concertos with Yan Pascal Tortelier and the Melbourne Symphony.Last year anam was controversially stripped of all its funding from the government, and faced closure until a huge international wave of pressure forced the government to reconsider, and it is now enjoying a well-deserved surge with the brilliant composer Brett Dean at its helm. I was truly delighted when Brett asked last year ‘could you just take the building over for a week?’. Er, Yes Mate! After a recital, a masterclass and a lecture, the highlight of the week is a performance with most of the students where we’ll occupy practically every space in the building playing improvisations and pieces we’ve devised during a week of workshops. The audience will roam around, then there’ll be a brief still point with everyone in the magnificent main hall, before we all process over to the bizarre and unique Butterfly Club, one of Melbourne’s hippest venues, opposite anam, for drinks, talks, and maybe a bit more entertainment. Australis has a very New-World-Yes feeling to it, where these kinds of projects can just happen….I feel at home here!

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