Britain's James Rhodes: Total emotional breakdown followed by passionately hip musicmaking
There's a nice profile in today's Observer magazine in the Guardian on James Rhodes, a 35-year-old hipster who gave up live as a financial editor in London's City a few years ago in order to devote himself to classical piano. Except that there's nothing of the City -- or of classical aesthetic convention -- in what he does.
I'm not sure if he's anything more than a flash in the pan (if for no other reason than his personal emotional stamina), but I like what he's doing in terms of trying to connect with an audience in different ways.
(Don't miss the short video that accompanies the article: Here's this long-haired, tattoed dude surrounded by the gilded history in London's Steinway Hall, a jarring juxtaposition.)
In a review of a recital at London's über-hip Roundhouse in 2009, the Guardian's young Erica Jeal thought "Rhodes's abilities as an interpreter don't yet do justice to the real greats on his programme:"
Rhodes is fed up with the traditional piano recital format - and who can blame him? So, though his programme is decidedly old-school, he presents it more like a pop gig. Half the audience are sitting at round tables with drinks, and cameras project live footage on to the screens behind Rhodes's spotlit Steinway. On one level, it has worked: the average age of the audience is at most half that of the Wigmore Hall, where it can safely be said nobody has introduced Busoni's arrangement of Bach's D minor Chaconne as being "like a fucking cathedral".
Here's a sample of some of Rhodes' playing, none of which moves me much, but, again, that's not the point of why I'm bringing him up. This is from last summer's Cheltenham Music Festival:
TODAY AT 3 p.m.: Don't miss Cape Bretoner Ian Hominick's free piano recital at the Great Hall, Hart House.