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Jayson Gillham

Born and raised in Queensland, now based in London, Jayson Gillham is widely considered to be one of the finest classical pianists of his generation. Rita Horanyi caught up with the talented musician for a chat about his upcoming solo recital and Darwin debut.

It’s very exciting that you are able to come Darwin and perform live after the year that’s been.
I know, it’s been more than a year since I’ve had a proper concert, so it’s nice to be on tour and playing again. It’ll be my first time in Darwin.

What are you looking forward to the most about your trip to the Top End?
I’m looking forward to seeing the local audience and I also want to do a bit of sightseeing.

You’ve been playing piano since you were four-years-old. What was it about the piano that drew you in?
I think, when I started, I was just fascinated with the sound and the instrument, but I had absolutely no idea about what a life in music would be. There are obviously positives and negatives about everything, and you don’t really find out what it’s like to be a musician until you’re living it. There are so many awesome things about travelling around, and I just love sharing music with people.

I suppose my love of the music itself grew gradually over time, and at a certain point when I was a teenager, I realised there wasn’t really anything else I wanted to do with my life.

You’ve played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. What do you enjoy most about your solo performances?
It’s nice to go back to what I started out doing. As a pianist, your life is often just you and the piano… but I’ve always quite liked that solitary experience, although with the audience there it’s not a solitary thing at all.

In a solo recital you have the freedom to explore things and play things differently every time. It can be a bit nerve-wracking – if it goes wrong there is nobody to help pick up the slack – but that can be quite exhilarating as well, to think that everyone’s eyes and ears are just on you. It can be a really personal experience … an intimate insight into my relationship with these pieces.

Your performance features much-loved repertoire by Bach and Chopin – what was behind choosing these pieces?
I’ve had a little break from playing and I wanted to come back and play things that I know I love and the audience will love, and also things that I’ve recorded recently. I always like to have things that I’m comfortable with and a mix of newer things. So I’ve put in these Bach transcriptions, which have been really popular. There’s a couple in there I haven’t done before – the Bach Partita and the Bach/Brahms Presta, which was a violin piece.

I say it’s a like a finger twister – a tongue twister but for the fingers – you’re lucky if you can get out of it alive! I’ll be on the edge of my seat for that one.

Can you tell us about any other exciting performances coming up?
I’ve got a concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and something planned for St Martins in the Fields Church in London next spring.

While I’m here [in Australia], one of the live concerts is going to be recorded, so I’m really hoping that will come out well and I’ll be able to release that as my next solo recording, which will be all Chopin études.

Jayson Gillham
SAT 9 OCT | 7.30PM
COST $65

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