Welcome to the Royal Academy of Music’s third Summer Piano Festival – a festival that involves our pianists collaborating with string players, singers, percussionists, composers, visual artists, dancers and actors. We wanted to create a series that reflects the boldness, wit and diversity of the repertoire young pianists play today; so we’ve put together a programme overflowing with ideas and original work, curated by the students themselves.
There’s music from the last four centuries, and some very special celebrations. Firstly, of the mercurial, endlessly innovative Hungarian composer György Ligeti, who died ten years ago this summer. Seven adventurous Academy pianists perform his complete solo keyboard music – from the early 1940s to the 1990s – in one day (1st July). There’s also a focus on strong, contemporary Polish music – Polish Music Exposed – as well as three concerts contrasting the arch-romantic Russian composer/pianist Medtner with Stravinsky, over the two days. And we celebrate the spiritually poetic music of Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, on his seventieth birthday (30th June).
All these programmes run concurrently – you can move around freely and hear different pianists playing very different music, all day.
Pianists have always been multitasking creatures; they inevitably end up conducting, curating, communicating, commissioning and composing, as well as performing. So I hope this short, packed festival gives you an idea of the sheer range, individuality and exuberance involved in being a pianist – not just playing the notes, but being a deeply creative and involved musician.