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Concerts in USA/Canada (2014-10-08)

The last few weeks I've been doing everything from playing 3 different recital programmes, giving 2 benefit concerts, cleaning out my apartment in Ottawa and putting archival stuff in storage, trying to think about the planning for next year's Trasimeno Music Festival in Umbria (July 4-10 by the way!), and a million other things. The concert at Shriver Hall in Baltimore (a complete Art of Fugue by Bach) was memorable, and I hope to perform it much more in the States in coming years. Then in Ottawa I was named Ambassador for Orkidstra, an El Sistema-based community programme for children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, enabling them to learn a musical instrument (see photo). I was very moved hearing them play. I played alone, conducted their orchestra, played the violin in Beethoven's Ode to Joy (good thing I was at the back of the orchestra!), and accompanied a young clarinetist in a movement from the Saint-Saens Sonata. A private fundraiser for the Canadian Friends of the Trasimeno Music Festival was another busy but happy evening. Then concerts in Guelph, Ontario (another benefit for the Guelph Youth Music Centre, held in memory of a close family friend, Doris Bannon); and one at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. A masterclass there as well. So I haven't been idle. Today I arrived in Washington DC and tomorrow will rehearse Mozart K482 with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. The conductor is David Zinman, so it should be a huge pleasure. We haven't worked together for 20 years, but I remember our performances of Beethoven in Baltimore as being highlights of my career.

The new season starts... (2014-09-18)

A few weeks "holiday" was hardly enough. No time to really wind down, and I spent it doing things I can't do while I'm touring around, madly running around London on a million errands (and writing CD notes for my Liszt album). But I did have a wonderful week in Umbria going around as a tourist, but also looking at other possible venues for concerts and events in my Trasimeno Music Festival. Umbria is so beautiful, and I was glad to discover more of it. To take a real break from my life, I would need three months without concerts, not just three weeks. Another time....! I am happy, though, to be back on the circuit now. It started in style with a concert in the Bachfest in Thun, Switzerland--another beautiful spot. Then, after another few days in Umbria during which I got food poisoning (not recommended), I gave a rare but very welcome recital in Austria in the city of Wels where their recital series, mostly of solo pianists, has been going for almost 40 years. They had been trying to get me since 2008, it seems. Great, too, to play Scarlatti and Albeniz again in concert after a gap of many years. I'll be recording Scarlatti next watch out for that. Last night I performed the Art of Fugue in the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam (see photo)--a new venue for me which I thought was excellent for a recital. Nice to see the new CD of that flying off the table afterwards at the signing! Today I'm flying from Amsterdam to London, then only 2 hours at home to switch clothes, then back out to the airport to fly to Washington DC. On Sunday afternoon I will replace Helene Grimaud for the opening concert of the series at Shriver Hall in Baltimore, with my only performance of The Art of Fugue in the USA this season. Except that my flight to London seems to be delayed...I hope not too delayed...not today of all days...

Festivals in Finland (2014-08-14)

Just three more days and then I finally get a few weeks holiday. I haven’t had one for several years. In fact I can’t remember the last time. I do know that in 2013 I didn’t have any time off at all. It was constant work—if not performing, then preparing repertoire. And it’s been like that so far in 2014 as well. Not that this “holiday” is going to see me lying on a beach. I have to write CD notes for my Liszt album (out early next year), do taxes, and a million other things that have had to wait. But I do want to see some long-neglected friends and do some touristy things in both Italy and London. Plus some more stretching exercises!

The last two weeks were spent in Finland—a very hot Finland! Every day had incredible sunshine and high temperatures. And lots of great music-making with my Finnish colleagues. The first festival I went to is the baby of violinist Pekka Kuusisto (who has performed at my festival in Italy), and was just outside of Helsinki near the beautiful forests where Sibelius lived at Ainola. I played the Art of Fugue, a Mozart Quintet, and did sonatas by Bach and Beethoven with Pekka. A great delight. Plus a lot of practising for the following week when I played in the Rauma Festival on the west coast of Finland.

That festival was organized this year by violinist and conductor Jan Söderblom, a very fine musician. We only played some tangos together in an all-tango evening on the last night (see photo), but otherwise I played some solo Bach, three pieces from my Bach Book (published by Boosey & Hawkes) and most importantly played the Mozart Concerto K271 with the Pori Sinfonietta conducted by Hannu Lintu. Hannu was born in Rauma, and it was great to perform with him there in a sold-out hall.

Now I'm in Switzerland in Teufen, near St. Gallen. On Saturday I will perform the Goldberg Variations in the Appenzeller Bachtage. Tomorrow a Hauskonzert. Now sleep.

Trasimeno Music Festival 2014 (2014-07-22)

The tenth Trasimeno Music Festival is now over. So is the week of masterclasses I gave after that in Spoleto. I am a bit of a wreck, but a happy one. I’m afraid I neglected this website during that time. It’s simply impossible to do everything, and in any case Facebook gives you a better platform for sharing photos from those events with people around the world. Even if you don’t “do” Facebook, I think you can see them by following the Facebook logo from this page. Have a try!

I know it sounds presumptuous to say the festival gets better every year, but I think that was really the case with this special tenth edition. The new venues we added (the Basilica Superiore of San Francesco in Assisi, the Auditorium San Domenico in Foligno, and the Church of San Salvatore in Spoleto for the masterclass) were all superb. We had a record attendance of music lovers from around the globe. We even had the highest number of Italian listeners so far! We had our first broadcast on Italian national radio (thank you, Radio 3 Suite!). We had three orchestras in attendance for the first time (LaVerdi from Milan; the Camerata Salzburg; and soloists from the Aurora Orchestra in London). Not sure we can do that every year, but they were all terrific. As were all the soloists and chamber players, including Maestro Jeffrey Tate, Dame Felicity Lott, the actor Roger Allam (both in Walton’s Façade), the Quartetto di Cremona (with friends Sara Dambruoso and Riccardo Agosti), and the quartet of soloists for the Mozart Coronation Mass (Lydia Teuscher, Caitlin Hulcup, Thomas Walker, and Wolf Matthias Friedrich). Eric Friesen brought his gracious presence to the scene for the pre-concert talks and interviews. We also had a pre-festival concert with young artists from Canada, Italy, and Finland. Two extra concerts were added to accommodate the overflow—in Panicale and the Teatro Cucinelli in Solomeo. A huge thank you goes to my staff (small but amazingly efficient!), the volunteers, and especially the donors, both private and otherwise, who make the festival possible. Now I have to start thinking about 2015!

Second Angela Hewitt International Piano Masterclass, Spoleto (2014-07-22)

For the first time since 2010, I gave a week of masterclasses, organized by the Trasimeno Music Festival, in Umbria--this time in Spoleto. It's not something my schedule allows me to do every summer, and it was totally exhausting to do it immediately after the festival ended (also because I've had a throat infection for the past three weeks through all of this....), but the rewards turned out to be great. Nine students from around the world (Australia, France, Italy, Israel, USA, Ukraine, Taiwan) came for the week of intense work, bringing the large body of repertoire I had requested. We worked for a full six hours every day, and the students were expected to attend most of the lessons other than their own. We had one day only on Bach; one day on classical sonatas; and two days on Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, French music and own choice pieces (everything from de Falla to Smetena, but no Rachmaninoff--hurrah!); and one day on Bach/Mozart/Beethoven concertos. Then we put on an afternoon recital in a stunning church in Spoleto--San Salvatore (UNESCO world heritage site). The acoustics were terrific, Fazioli Pianos provided a beautiful F278 which the kids were thrilled to play; and the people of Spoleto filled the church! They did me proud. I'm not sure when the next one will be, but for sure sometime in the future.

Tonight's concert from Assisi live on RAI Radio 3 Suite! (2014-07-05)

The formal opening of the 2014 Trasimeno Music Festival is in a few hours. It will be great to perform in the Basilica Superiore of San Francesco in Assisi. The rehearsals took place in the past few days in Milan, and we are all anxiously awaiting the adventure! Please tune in on RAI Radio 3 Suite to listen live at 9 pm in Italy (3 pm EDT). Last night we had a lovely pre-festival concert with some terrific young musicians: Bryan and Silvie Cheng from Ottawa (cello and piano duo); Roope Gröndahl from Finland (piano), and Riccardo Cellacchi from Rome (flute). Now I must get ready for the concert!

The 10th Trasimeno Music Festival is starting soon! (2014-06-26)

Oh, I'm swamped. You have no idea. I have several full-time jobs. It's almost festival time and we're working flat out. I have a staff of 5 (counting myself). Most festivals like this would have a staff of at least 20. They are all great workers (most of us do it for free) and we have fun...good thing! Not only am I playing 7 huge programmes in 7 days (actually the repertoire for me is all now "under control" or "sotto controllo" as they say in Italy), but I'm working as much at the computer as at the piano. Our first pre-festival concert is this Saturday in Panicale where they have a jewel of a tiny theatre--the Caporali. The Quartetto di Cremona and myself will give a great programme of Mozart, Brahms, and Schumann. It's the first time we're doing a concert there. We added it because all the concerts at the Castle of the Knights of Malta in Magione were mostly sold out already in January (if you look on the festival website, there are still a few seats left, but hurry!). So Panicale, and also my solo recital in Solomeo at Brunello Cucinelli's own theatre (yes, the cashmere designer!) on July 12th (see photo) were added so that especially the local residents can attend. Still tickets left for those. The big churches where we have lots of space--Assisi, Perugia, Foligno--will all be very special. To book for all these concerts, please visit our website. It's our tenth festival, and the programme I've chosen is a special one indeed. Dame Felicity Lott, actor Roger Allam, conductor Jeffrey Tate...not to be missed!

Live Stream coming up NOW from Toronto!! (2014-06-11)

In a few hours, the "show" I'm doing tonight for Toronto's Luminato Festival will be streamed live on the internet. It's a Luminato creation called Keys on the Street and features myself, playing my own Fazioli concert grand piano, and some great urban dancers, with choreography by Tre Armstrong. Watch and see something different! I play steadily for 70 minutes: Bach, Couperin, Messiaen, Debussy, Ravel, Schubert and then the entire Goldberg Variations. I was apprehensive about it at first, but hey....good to do something "out of the box" and the kids are very talented and I like dancers, having been one myself. It was the idea of Jorn Weisbrodt, Luminato's Artistic Director, and husband of Rufus Wainwright.

New Messiaen recording released today! (2014-06-02)

I am very excited about the release of the Hybrid SACD recording of Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony which is out today! That's the one I recorded last January with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Hannu Lintu and Valerie Hartmann-Claverie on the ondes martenot. Many of you watched the live performance over the internet. If you thought that was exciting, listen to this! Now available in my online shop. Just click on the word "shop" in the left hand side of this page.

Liszt recording for Hyperion (2014-05-29)

Here I am again--finally. There is so much computer work to do at the moment with my Trasimeno Music Festival beginning in just over a month's time in Italy. Not to mention the work at the piano as well. Since I last wrote, I have given two more recitals in the UK in beautiful country churches (Wendover and Chipping Camden); went to Berlin and recorded a Liszt CD for Hyperion; gave recitals at the Konzerthaus there and also in the Black Forest area of Germany (where I had never been), and tonight played Mozart's G major Concerto K453 with the London Mozart Players and conductor Gerard Korsten at St. John's Smith Square. We repeat that lovely programme tomorrow in Croydon at the Fairfield Halls. But back to Liszt. Another dream has come true: i had always wanted to record the Sonata in B minor, the 3 Petrarch Sonnets and the "Dante" Sonata--my favourite Liszt (indeed some of my all-time favourite music, period!). And now it's done. I can't begin to explain what that means to me. I find those pieces really transcendental, and they have such memories for me from my younger years. Thank you Hyperion for giving me the chance to record it. I am forever grateful.

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