EADT Suffolk - - News -

AS a teenager seek­ing his first place at a school for young pi­anists, Ni­cholas McCarthy was re­fused an au­di­tion and told not to waste his time try­ing. Ni­cholas, born with­out his right hand, would never make it, he was told. This month, when Ni­cholas per­forms at Ip­swich School Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic, he will doubt­less prove them wrong and be a huge in­spi­ra­tion to those who wit­ness his in­cred­i­ble tal­ent.

Ni­cholas was born and brought up in Ep­som, Sur­rey, where he lived un­til 2013 when he moved to Colchester. Early life was gen­er­ally good, he says. His par­ents never al­lowed him to feel dif­fer­ent and he found ways around do­ing ‘two handed’ things with his one. He took up the pi­ano at the rel­a­tively late age of 14 af­ter see­ing a friend play the pi­ano in school assem­bly.

“I ini­tially wanted to be a chef – for some rea­son I was al­ways at­tracted to these two handed jobs. As soon as I started to learn the pi­ano I knew that I wanted to per­form for my ca­reer.” Be­ing born with­out his right hand wasn’t a great strug­gle be­cause it was the only thing he knew.

“It would be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story if I had lost my arm in an ac­ci­dent,” he says. His first tu­tor was a lo­cal pi­ano teacher, who still goes to his con­certs.

“I set my sights on a lo­cal pi­ano school, but couldn’t even get an au­di­tion as they be­lieved it would be im­pos­si­ble for me to se­ri­ously study pi­ano. It was a real knock, but I learnt from it. I set my sights at Ju­nior Guild­hall – I was 16 – and de­cided not to tell them I had one hand un­til they saw me play. Af­ter that I set my sights on the Royal Col­lege of Mu­sic. That be­gan a happy and en­rich­ing time, cul­mi­nat­ing in be­ing the first one-handed mu­si­cian to grad­u­ate in its 135-year his­tory.” Ni­cholas is thank­ful and feels lucky to have a ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian, but says he has many more things he’d like to achieve.

“I hope I may be chal­leng­ing at­ti­tudes and open­ing up op­por­tu­ni­ties for pi­anists like me in the fu­ture.” As well as clas­si­cal, he loves con­tem­po­rary artists like Adele, Amy Wine­house and Emeli Sande.

“Artists who have a unique­ness about them ap­peal to me a lot. My fa­vorite pi­anist is Martha Augerich.” Ni­cholas’ lat­est al­bum of Bach and Rach­mani­noff was recorded in Suf­folk, a county with which he feels a deep affin­ity as he was Mu­si­cian in Res­i­dence and a Pa­tron of the Mu­sic School at Ip­swich School.

“Mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant to me. I love the Ip­swich School Mu­sic Fes­ti­val as it al­ways has such di­verse and fan­tas­tic acts, so to be part of it this year is re­ally ex­cit­ing. I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing in the gorgeous hall. I have per­formed there be­fore and it has such a great acous­tic.

Af­ter­noon Tea Con­cert with Ni­cholas McCarthy. Sun­day, Oc­to­ber 15, 2pm – Ip­swich School Great School Con­cert Hall, Ivry Street. All tick­ets £15 in­clud­ing tea and cakes. For book­ings, full line-up and in­for­ma­tion about the fes­ti­val 01473 295900 or www. wolseythe­

Ni­cholas McCarthy

Na­tional Youth Choir ap­pear­ing at Ip­swich School Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic

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