‘Every live performance is different and unpredictable; that’s the beauty of music.’
What inspired you to be a pianist?
My Mum saved up lots of money to buy a piano when I was little, which funnily enough we named Tchaikovsky. I had my debut with an orchestra at the age of nine. I remember so clearly coming off stage and telling my teacher and Mum: ‘I want to become a concert pianist’. I had no idea about any of the implications as I don’t come from a family of musicians but it has always been the drive, that fire inside of wanting to be better, to improve. I’ve had incredible teachers along the way, without whom, I could never be where I am today.
This is the first time you’ve performed at Kings Place, what are you most looking forward to?
I am so excited about performing at Kings Place. I’ve seen many concerts there – it’s always such a friendly and intimate atmosphere. Hall One has a fantastic acoustic and I hear there’s a new piano, which I cannot wait to try! Bringing the Nutcracker and I to Kings Place is a dream come true!
Christmas comes early to Kings Place, thanks to your show. What should our audiences expect from The Nutcracker and I?
A completely magical experience! I love telling stories and this is my journey from a little girl who dreamt of becoming a concert pianist to those dreams becoming a reality. The performance is full of surprises and it leaves every single member of the audience spellbound.
It premiered last December in Barbican’s Milton Court. How will it be different in Kings Place’s Hall One?
Every live performance is different and unpredictable; that’s the beauty of music. The set up won’t be very much different from the premiere but we won’t know until we get in the space.
What are the challenges this particular show poses to you as a performer? And the most enjoyable part?
The solo arrangements are some of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever played – my hands fly all over the keyboard most of the time. The whole production is very much like chamber music. I interact with Clara’s movements but also with the animations. The technical producer is at the back and we have lots of queues and tiny signals which help us be more in sync – it’s very much like a trio. It’s the most ‘alive’ performance I’ve ever been involved in. It’s pure magic!
What piece of advice would you give parents in encouraging children to take up music?
Music making especially at the beginning of one’s journey needs a lot of patience from both parents and children. It’s very much about hard work and perseverance. Never give up even when things seem tough. One of the things I am most grateful for is my Mum’s encouragement over the years and the love she instilled in me for learning. Not every child will become a professional musician but the skills they take away from learning an instrument are countless.
What’s next after London Piano Festival?
The Nutcracker and I is embarking on a world tour (November-January 2019) with more than 40 performances across Europe, China, Australia and UAE. My 2018/19 season marks a special focus on works by female composers and I am thrilled to perform Germaine Tailleferre’s Ballade for piano and orchestra with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Jessica Cottis, and later in the season, Nadia Boulanger’s Fantaisie variée with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and James Gaffigan at London’s Barbican Hall. Hope to see some of you on one of my journeys!
Gabriela Montero Chaplin & ‘The Immigrant’
Katya Apekisheva plays Schubert
Pre-concert Talk: Sally Beamish in conversation with Owen Mortimer
Two-Piano Gala Katya Apekisheva, Finghin Collins, Gabriela Montero, Charles Owen & Kathryn Stott
The Goldberg Variations with Charles Owen & Marcus du Sautoy Sounding Symmetry – A Lecture-Recital