Pi­anist back for fifth tour with NZSO

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE -

Ac­claimed Bri­tish pi­anist Freddy Kempf, 39, is in Blen­heim later this month to per­form Piano­ma­nia with the New Zealand Sym­phony Orches­tra.

When did you know that you wanted to be a mu­si­cian?

I al­ways re­mem­ber lov­ing mu­sic - and even be­fore I started play­ing an in­stru­ment I was lis­ten­ing to it. I first wanted to play an in­stru­ment at age 4 - I very clearly stated I wanted to have lessons. And af­ter that it was just my hobby - and luck­ily it still is!

How do you play and con­duct at the same time?

The con­duct­ing part is mostly in re­hearsal. Nor­mally a soloist will have a sep­a­rate con­duc­tor that plans how to use the re­hearsal time and what plan to have for the show. I then have to take over this role, where the "play­ing" part is less im­por­tant. I have to fo­cus on lis­ten­ing to the orches­tra and sort­ing out what­ever prob­lems oc­cur. In the con­cert I’m mostly just play­ing since by then ev­ery­one knows what’s go­ing on.

What is it that you love the most about per­form­ing to an au­di­ence?

I sup­pose the ex­cite­ment all comes from the chal­lenge. We all at­tempt to play some­thing that is ac­tu­ally in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult - whether it’s a con­certo, a sym­phony or opera. No-one is ever ab­so­lutely sure that noth­ing will go wrong - so ev­ery­one is try­ing as hard as they can to sense mis­takes be­fore they hap­pen, or to play some­thing right that’s never gone right be­fore.

Be­cause of the au­di­ence and the oc­ca­sion, we all know we have only one shot - so that’s where the pres­sure comes from. If things work, and usu­ally some things do then it’s in­cred­i­bly ful­fill­ing and ex­cit­ing.

How did you come to choose the six works you will per­form in Piano­ma­nia?

I wanted to pick a mix­ture of my favourite pieces as well as works that made sense stuck to­gether, that maybe ex­plained a lit­tle about the whole idea of pi­ano plus or­ch­estera.

The Han­del was the most dra­matic work I could find writ­ten be­fore Mozart and Beethoven - and hap­pens to be ba­si­cally the first ex­am­ple of a con­certo writ­ten in the way that they’ve been writ­ten ever since.

The Mozart is sim­ply sublime. The Chopin is one of my favourite works for pi­ano that is rarely played be­cause the orches­tra part is so mi­nor. The Men­delssohn is a work I played as a child, writ­ten by Men­delssohn when he was very young, and a very ex­cit­ing piece.

The Rach­mani­nov al­most ev­ery­one recog­nises, and is one of the most pas­sion­ate works ever writ­ten. The Gersh­win is so unique - not a con­certo, but one of the most fa­mous works for pi­ano and per­formed al­most more of­ten than any­thing else.

Piano­ma­nia will be your fifth se­ries of per­for­mances with the NZSO. What is it about the orches­tra that you love?

It’s al­ways lovely to get to know an orches­tra more per­son­ally, and am so de­lighted I’ve been asked to come back for the fifth time. The NZSO is not only one of the best in the world, but has a unique re­la­tion­ship with its au­di­ence - hardly any orches­tra tours so reg­u­larly through­out its own coun­try.

PHOTO: DEN­NIS BALD

Freddy Kempf and the NZSO will per­form in Blen­heim at the ASB Theatre on Septem­ber 19.

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