An interview with: Jayson Gillham

jayson-gillham-by-saga-images-10-bwAt this year’s main Two Moors Festival two-week event in October, we’ve got a very special piano recital from Australian pianist Jayson Gillham, Commonwealth Musician of the Year, Gold Medal winner at the Royal Overseas League and major prize winner at the Leeds Piano Competition in 2012. We’re very pleased to welcome him to All Saints Church in Dulverton on October 19th and caught up with him to find out even more about his chosen programme, which includes pieces by Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Debussy and Liszt, among others.

2MF: What do you think of the Festival’s theme of light this year?

JG: Light is a great theme because there are so many different ways one can interpret it. Light is often used figuratively in our language, the phrases “shedding a light upon” to mean highlighting or focusing on something, or “seeing the light” so becoming enlightened or increasing understanding of something, as well as the literal meanings of not dark or not heavy. It is a broad theme because everything we interpret through sight requires light so it includes colour and synaesthesia of colour and sound. Light and colour metaphors are used a lot when describing music such as ‘tone colour’ and a ‘bright’ or ‘dark’ sound.

2MF: How did you go about picking pieces to fit in with this?

JG: I spent a lot of time thinking about the programme and when I came across the idea of Enlightenment and moving from a mental or emotional place of darkness to lightness that I realised I had the kernel for a very interesting solo piano programme.

2MF: What do you think about playing in a church? Have you ever done it before?

JG: Churches are often used for recitals. Music has always been part of the church, but these days it is much more secular and churches are maintaining their social function as a place for listening to concerts rather than sermons. I like playing in churches, but the large ones can often be too resonant for the type of music that I play.

2MF: Which piece in your programme is most challenging?

JG: For me the Chopin Polonaise-Fantaisie is the hardest to solve. It is structurally awkward and hard to make a convincing whole.

2MF: Which one do you think the audience will enjoy the most?

JG: I guess we’ll have to see on the day – maybe we can have a show of hands!

2MF: Which do you enjoy playing the most?

JG: At the moment I’m really enjoying L’Isle Joyeuse, which is incredibly evocative and has everything that people love about Debussy’s music – washes of sound, sparkling, shimmering textures and a gorgeous tune.

2MF: Are you going to any of the festival’s other concerts this year?

JG: I hope to stay for a couple of nights so yes I’d love to go along to whatever I can. I haven’t looked at the programme in detail yet but was intrigued to find the mirror of my programme – ‘from light to darkness’

2MF: What do you have planned for the future?

JG: Some of my upcoming highlights are a recital at the Louvre Auditorium, Paris, and a concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

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