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Rolf Hind – Is it too soon to talk about all this?

Feature

Celebrated pianist-composer Rolf Hind returns to live performance at Kings Place on Wed 7 Oct with a programme profoundly related to his lockdown experience. Here he reflects on grief, isolation and the musical harvest he reaped from reaching out.


© Škel Nicolau

Lockdown started as a slap in the face, and the ego: two concerts with new pieces of mine – which I’d been looking forward to and working towards for some time – cancelled at the last minute.

An eerie quiet descended over the streets around us, and then, with the first stirrings of spring, my bubble-mate husband and I guiltily admitted: we’re quite enjoying this. We have a small garden, now starting to breathe and grow; he was working from home, I had another composition project to begin, and am happy to potter and cook and do my yoga in the park…

‘It was a bleak and sad time, even though my immediate family thankfully had FaceTime to act as some kind of channel for grief. I felt the isolation more vividly, the weird remoteness of the everyday world.’

Then the health of my father, who was being cared for in a home, took a sudden nosedive. He died on the 5th of April, and we weren’t able to visit, or organise a proper funeral. It was a bleak and sad time, even though my immediate family thankfully had FaceTime to act as some kind of channel for grief. I felt the isolation more vividly, the weird remoteness of the everyday world.

After my Dad’s death, I guess partly to process my own feelings I wrote a piece “Khaga” which I will play in the concert. Then I felt very much that I wanted to reach out to other creative people again and encourage their reflections on this time, so I posted on my Facebook page and Twitter, asking for new little pieces reflecting the times which I could record and download on my phone (for technical reasons, to do with my phone, they could only be about a minute long!)

A beautiful piece (from Rylan Gleave, based in Glasgow) arrived very quickly, and then many more, and it became part of my routine, something I’d look forward to – to practice them, and then record them each morning. Messages of uplift and community from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, the US, Australia, Japan and many more.

For the concert I’ve chosen a range of pieces that show different approaches and moods, from evocations of the meditative stillness some experienced, to anger and fear, via political thoughts and ruminations on nature – which I think we all experienced more vividly. It was a real challenge to sift them. In the future I plan to make a recording of a large number of them.

I received 80 plus perfect little pieces, wonderful gifts which sustained me creatively and emotionally, and made me feel connected, even though I’d no idea when I could play live again! I want to thank all the composers for being so open and generous.

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