Showing posts with label Anthony Hewitt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthony Hewitt. Show all posts

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pianist soldiers on with broken shoulder...

Last Friday I was up in Ulverston for the music festival. I did a pre-concert talk with Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, the town and its countryside almost too pretty to be true and there's gluten-free food galore. And on the train on the way up you go through Carnforth, where Brief Encounter was filmed. This is a good trip for old-film buffs, especially with Stan Laurel being Ulverston's biggest local celeb.

Anthony Hewitt (left) and me with local celeb Stan Laurel
& his pal outside Ulverston's Coronation Hall
Other than Anthony Hewitt, that is. He's the director of the Ulverston Festival and a very fine pianist indeed. But about six weeks ago disaster struck. He had a cycling accident in which he suffered a broken collar-bone and dislocated right shoulder.

You may remember that back in 2012 he was The Olympianist, cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats and giving a recital wherever he stopped each night, to raise money for musical and sports charities.

Still, it took a shoulder injury for the TV news to go and film him...playing music for left hand alone, written for Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the First World War.

Better late than never: here he is on ITV.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

TOMORROW in Wales!

Going to Pembrokeshire tomorrow for a Hungarian Dances Concert-of-the-Novel at PenFro Book Festival in the gorgeous setting of Rhosygilwen Mansion. David Le Page on violin, Anthony Hewitt on piano, me on words. Full details here. Do join us if you are anywhere nearby!

We are expecting a slightly adventurous journey. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hungarian Dances in Lakes and London

A final reminder that tonight is your chance to catch HUNGARIAN DANCES: THE CONCERT OF THE NOVEL at the St James Theatre Studio, 12 Palace Street, London SW1, at 8pm.

AND AN UPDATE: the thrill of the adrenaline this maybe why performers get hooked on performing? My piece for Culturekicks:

We are just back from the Ulverston International Music Festival in the South Lakeland, where we, um, we got a standing ovation...! Which was rather gratifying to say the least, especially as this was a morning coffee concert and by then it was coming up to lunchtime. Huge thanks to everyone at the festival for a day to remember. Above: Anthony Hewitt (who's artistic director of the festival), David Le Page and me, milking our moment of glory in the Coronation Hall... 

I also did a pre-concert talk with everybody's favourite cellist on Thursday night... He and pianist Ian Brown gave a sensational recital featuring, not least, the cello sonata by Frank Bridge, which is a work everybody ought to hear and marvel at, especially when it's played with such eloquence. An English Rachmaninov? Not far off.

Ulverston was the birthplace of Stan Laurel, so look who's lurking just by the Coronation Hall doorway. Oddly enough, I nearly had the opportunity to say "Here's another fine mess you've got me into..." due to a strange incident at 1am the night before our concert... Suffice it to say that Gretel and I were in a huge flap, Tony's dad heroically ventured forth to save the day, and Dave slept through the whole thing.

See you tonight!

Thursday, May 16, 2013




 Tuesday 11 June, 8pm
St James Theatre Studio, 12 Palace Street, London SW1
(a short walk from Victoria Station)
Tickets: £15. Book here: 

Saturday 8 June, 11am
Ulverston International Music Festival, Cumbria
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, on Hungarian Dances by Jessica Duchen

Mimi, a Hungarian Gypsy girl, is determined to play the violin, in defiance of family traditions. She becomes a classical virtuoso, but at a terrible personal price... 

Alternating narration and music, this emotional roller-coaster traverses 90 years, richly illustrated with music of irresistible beauty that blurs the boundaries between the classical and Gypsy styles.

DOHNANYI: Andante rubato alla zingaresca
DINICU: The Lark
MONTI: Czardas
KREISLER: Marche Miniature Viennoise
DEBUSSY: Violin Sonata
VECSEY: Valse Triste
BARTOK: Romanian Dances
BRAHMS: Hungarian Dance No.2 (arr. Joachim)
RAVEL: Tzigane
HUBAY: Hejre Kati
DAVID LE PAGE, born in Guernsey, is the leader of the Orchestra of the Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, and of the Adderbury Ensemble. He trained at the Yehudi Menuhin School and in Bern with Igor Ozim and Sidney Griller. He was a prizewinner in BBC Young Musician of the Year and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition. He plays the living daylights out of this repertoire.
ANTHONY HEWITT won top prize at the William Kapell International Piano Competition in 1992 and studied at the Menuhin School, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest. He is artistic director of the Ulverston International Music Festival, Cumbria.
JESSICA DUCHEN writes about music for The Independent and is the author of four novels, two biographies and a number of stage works mingling words and music. Plus JDCMB, of course.
HUNGARIAN DANCES is published by Hodder.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Friday Historical: Isolde Menges plays 'Hejre Kati'

This sweet-toned, quick-witted performance of Hubay's version of Hejre Kati was recorded by the British violinist Isolde Menges in the 1920s. The sound quality is remarkable for the time and the whole thing beautifully bridges the divide between high-art classical playing and the rather earthier Csardas that Hubay transcribed. Menges is definitely inclined more to the classical side of things...

...but the recording is nevertheless getting me geared up for the Hungarian Dances concert-of-the-novel, for which our new team - David Le Page and Anthony Hewitt - has rehearsal no.1 next week. This piece ends our programme. First concert will be in the Ulverston Festival on 8 June, then the St James Theatre Studio on 11 June and we're going on Radio 3's In Tune to talk about it, and play some, on 3 June.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday Historical: Beethoven's Triple in Moscow, 1970

Heads up, first, to a feisty performance of this extraordinary piece at St George's Hanover Square yesterday. The Orpheus Foundation's mission is to help young musicians bridge the gap between finishing college and finding their way into the profession by providing orchestral performing experience with the Orpheus Sinfonia. Yesterday their cello soloist was one of their increasing number of success stories: born in Belorus, Aleksei Kiseliov played with the ensemble for several years and, besides winning a number of prizes, he has now been appointed principal cello of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Beethoven's Triple Concerto features a virtually irrational workout for the cello, which has to undertake all manner of stratospherical pyrotechnics, but Aleksei stayed cool as can be, maintaining exquisitely beautiful tone throughout. Expert contributions, too, from his fellow soloists - the fine young violinist Benjamin Baker and our neighbour-in-SW-London Anthony Hewitt, who was in volcanically eloquent mode at the piano.

Since giving that talk a couple of weeks ago, I've been preoccupied with Beethoven. It's too easy to take him for granted. Rather than musing at length, though, let's hear some...

So here are the Triple's second and third movements, played live in Moscow in 1970 by David Oistrakh (violin), Sviatoslav Richter (piano) and Mstislav Rostropovich in "that" cello part. Kirill Kondrashin conducts the Moscow Philharmonic in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday catch-up and Friday historical...

Busy patch. Here are some highlights of days past and the weekend ahead.

>> I was on BBC Radio 4's Front Row the other day, in discussion with Klaus Heymann, founder of Naxos Records, about the way the record industry has changed since the company launched 25 years ago. If you missed it, you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer until Tuesday:

>> Pianist Anthony Hewitt, "The Olympianist", has set off on his big ride from Land's End to John O'Groats and was lucky enough to encounter a strong west tail wind to get things started. He made it from kick-off to Truro in three hours, with his trusty BeethoVan close behind. Follow his progress via his website here. He's already raised more than £4000 for his seven musical and sporting charities.

>> The Royal Philharmonic Society Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday night at the Dorchester. Highlights included a gold medal for Mitsuko Uchida, whose speech was as vivid and genuine as her playing. So was Gareth Malone's - as keynote speaker he was gloriously positive. We are representing the best music in the world, so let's celebrate that! He stopped short of getting us all to sing, though. Maurizio Pollini was Instrumentalist of the Year and Claudio Abbado scooped the Conductor prize. Cellist Olly Coates was selected as Young Artist, heading off extraordinary competition from a shortlist that also included Benjamin Grosvenor and Sophie Bevan. It was an extremely good night for ENO, which won the Opera award for its Eugene Onegin. With them was Toby Spence, who won Singer of the Year, a prize that incidentally was decided upon well before the distressing news reached anybody that he has been having treatment for thyroid cancer. He tells me he is on the mend, supported by a superb team of doctors and vocal coaches. And he was wearing some spectacular leopard-print shoes. A fine time was had by one and all. Full list of winners here. A Radio 3 broadcast is coming up on

>> I've just attended a special screening of John Bridcut's new documentary about Delius. It's fabulous. Exquisitely shot, full of insights and containing one or two considerable surprises - not least, some unfamiliar music that has no business being as neglected as it is. A few familiar faces on board, too (hello, Aarhus!). Don't miss it. It will be on BBC4 on 25 May.

>> My latest piece for The Spectator Arts Blog is about the unstoppable rise of the modern counter-tenor. I asked Iestyn Davies to explain to us how That Voice works. Read the whole thing here.

>> Tomorrow the LSO is giving a free concert in Trafalgar Square, complete with Valery Gergiev on the podium. Expect lots of Stravinsky, big screens and a London backdrop second to none. And the weather forecast says that, for once, it is NOT going to rain. Even Prince Charles will tell you so. Apparently he's always wanted to be a weatherman. Now his guest appearance on BBC Scotland has gone viral...

>> On Sunday Roxanna Panufnik has the world premiere of her new choral piece Love Endureth at Westminster Cathedral, during Vespers, 3.30pm. You don't have to be Catholic to go in. Here's an interview with her about this multi-faith project that I wrote a few weeks back - for the JC.

>> Apparently Roman Polanski is making a film about the Dreyfus Case. In the Guardian he comments: "one can show its absolute relevance to what is happening in today's world – the age-old spectacle of the witch hunt on a minority group, security paranoia, secret military tribunals, out-of-control intelligence agencies, governmental cover-ups and a rabid press." (Quite.)

And so to Friday Historical. Tomorrow is Gabriel Fauré's birthday. Here is Samson François playing the Nocturne No.6 in D flat.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meet The Olympianist

No, it's not another Beethoven cycle... Instead, British pianist Anthony Hewitt has come up with an exceptionally energetic way to stun several birds at one swoop. In the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games he will be cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats. Behind him follows his trusty Van Beethoven, containing a grand piano. Each evening he'll give a recital wherever he stops. And it's all in aid of excellent causes: pop some coins in the bucket, sponsor him or come to a concert and you're helping to raise funds for charities that aim to inspire children to take up music and/or sport, notably Big Noise, Musequality and Get Kids Going.

Right now he's busy training. And he promises to wear more clothes than the original out for them in this video he's made to explain the hows, wheres and wherefores.