One of the most exciting, and at the same time challenging, things about being a pianist is that you don't always know what kind of an instrument you'll be working with at the next gig. That's why I was very pleasantly surprised to get to play at a wedding at the keyboard instrument museum Klaverens Hus! Having never been there myself, the museum packed with harpsichords, pianos and organs was interesting all on its own. In addition to that I got to experience the joy of the happy occasion and prepare some unusual wedding music: sections of Ravel's G major piano concerto and Philip Glass' "Glassworks"!
Unfortunately I had to rush to the Stockholm train very shortly after finishing my set so I didn't get the chance to explore the place, but one of the newlyweds was kind enough to send me these pictures afterwards. My background music set included movie soundtrack pieces, swedish, russian and finnish classics ranging from Pjotr Tchaikovsky and Oskar Merikanto to Björn J:son Lindh, and some carefully chosen minimalistic music in the style of Philip Glass. The instrument of the day? One of the two grand pianos me and the guests were allowed to touch, a Malmsjö grand from the 1800s.
One of my colleagues once played Liszt's infamously difficult Mefisto- waltz on a grand piano that had at least one broken string and the ebony surface of one of the keys came off during the piece. I've been lucky enough to work with functioning pianos and keyboards, some better, some worse, though I once did have a venue that went pitch black in the middle of my concert.
As far as the music is concerned, sometimes I get booked a year in advance and this time I got 2 weeks to learn sections of Ravel's piano concerto! So when I don't have concerts or gigs coming up, I love not knowing what's going to happen a week or two from now. At another wedding earlier this year I played Pachelbel's traditional Canon in D major, a true wedding favorite, and the theme of the HBO megahit Game of Thrones. Later in October, this time at a christening, I'll be playing music from the movie Amelie on yet another grand piano I've never seen before, in a church I've never been to. There are so many variables, from the venue's acoustics, lighting and temperature to the program and the time you have to prepare it. It's always different and always a fascinating process. Organising an event that needs music? Give me a shout!
Testing new pianos for Opus Norden
In other news, I've been "test driving" new pianos to one of my work places, the music school Opus Norden. We went to the piano technician Lennart Hellgren's workshop where he tunes and fixes upright and grand pianos. The Royal Music Academy of Stockholm is one of his clients, and I have him to thank for the many wonderful hours I've spent practising there. Opus Norden ended up buying this amazing Steinway upright, in the picture next to the "skeleton" of a grand piano I just had to photograph at the workshop.