Inspirational keynote speakers at piano conference

RBC piano department students in a church

The 19th Century Piano-Playing Styles Conference was held in RBC's Recital Hall across five days this month (February), featuring 40 student pianists.

Day one of the conference featured an opening concert from the Primrose Piano Quartet.

Among the keynote speakers were German pianist and harpsichordist Andreas Staier, and RBC’s Artist in Residence Neal Peres da Costa from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Neal focused on Mozart’s Piano Concerto K 488, in the keynote ‘Reimagining Classical-era Repertoire Through Dialogues Across Time’.

Other keynote speakers included American pianist and musicologist Malcolm Bilson, who specialises in 18th and 19th Century music, and Anna Scott from Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. A further 10 delegates travelled to present, others to listen, and RBC’s Professor Christopher Dingle and Professor Emeritus Ronald Woodley gave papers.

The conference also included student performances of Bach's 48 Preludes and Fugues.

After the conference, 40 students travelled together to the Ulverston International Music Festival in the Lake District, where performances were repeated in Ulverston Parish Church across the weekend.

Head of the Department of Keyboard Studies Professor John Thwaites said: “For a week in February, RBC became the global focus for research on Romantic Piano-playing Styles. We began with a keynote lecture from Neal Peres da Costa on reading Reinecke's recordings back to Mozart and ended with the work of a group from Bern, enabling students to play one hand along with a long-dead Master whose other hand was relayed from a Piano Roll via a Yamaha Pro Enspire Grand Piano.

“Bringing to life the radically different way in which pianists played at the time that much of our favourite music was written has had an inspiring and profound impact on us all.”

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