After our first New Year’s party at home for years, which was huge fun, January started quite quietly only to get busier and busier, ending with 11 concerts in 10 days at the largest chamber music festival in the southern hemisphere in Nelson, New Zealand.
I began the year’s work in Brno for the 2nd chunk of my residency with their orchestra – seriously cold this time, down to -12 one night which was great! I had such wonderful meals and conversations and wanderings around the beautiful old town…and the performances were so enjoyable for me. Made all the more so because I only recovered from chopping my left index finger tip off instead of some red cabbage about a day before the first rehearsal. The Protecting Veil continues to be a concerto that fascinates and seduces me each time I play it.
Then I was in Finland working with the East Helsinki Music Institute which is a remarkable school – I had around 60 students and teachers, and the Helsinki Strings, an incredibly talented ensemble and we had the perfect luxury of 5 days to make music together. We created original material based on some fragments of music I stole from my Darbar/Philharmonia/SouthBankCentre project last September and I was knocked over by the skill, musicality, enthusiasm and just general ‘what-a-lovely-group-of-humans’ ness of the whole week. Finland has a world famous education system for very good reasons. Very special and I really look forward to the next project out there in 2018.
And just 24hrs to turn around in London and then off to New Zealand for the 3rd time. Always such an impressive country somehow, I just love it/them/the vibe/the nature/the coffee. Wow, the coffee is SO good it’s actually worth flying there just for that. But instead I was there for concerts – there were a lot of them, and the highlight for me was Beethoven’s utterly glorious and life-affirming Opus 69 sonata with Denes Varjon, a real master of the piano from Hungary, from the old school, Kurtag inspired world of chamber music. We also had an amazing day of 12 cellos, lots of improvising, (and coffee) and I particularly enjoyed hanging out with the New Zealand and Goldner String Quartets. One day I will go there and have a holiday after to explore. Instead, I’m now in South America for a bit of holiday in Colombia and Mexico. Ahhh, see you all soon…