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John Paul Ekins - The Lights, Thursday 26th September

Andover Music Club truly deliver in their promise of providing diverse and interesting music which is always very accessible and easy to listen to. To experience this seasons music it costs a very minimal £48.00 or £8 per concert. I think that is one hundred percent worth it.

It is amazing how many people have not heard of The Andover Music Club. The Club was founded over 65 years ago and is one of the best supported in the South. Andover Music Club presents six concert each year aiming to show varied and interesting music from all genres performed by professional musicians.

Please visit their website by clicking the link below.

Visit website: Andover Music Club

John Paul Ekins

Last night’s performance was given by recitalist, solo pianist and chamber musician John Paul Ekins. John Paul graduated from The Royal College of Music with First Class Honours and then continued his education at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since then, he has performed at many famous venues around the world including the Royal Albert Hall (where he recently performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with The Southbank Sinfonia), Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bucharest Athenaeum and Krakow’s Florianka Hall. We were indeed very privileged to have him perform for us at the Lights.

A while ago my parents lent me their Reader’s Digest classical music box set. I wanted to become more familiar with the various different classical composers. These box sets were perfect because they were recordings of relatively easy listening pieces which were a great introduction. For me, it had all the best stuff! It also gave me an excuse to use my record player which is always a bonus.

Last night was just like this for me. All the best bits! The programme consisted of Fantasy in C Minor K. 475 (Mozart), Impromptu in A Flat Op. 90 (Schubert), Holiday Diary Op.5 (Britten), Cantique d’Amour  (Liszt) and Sonata No. 21 in C major Op. 53, otherwise known as The Waldstein (Beethoven). John Paul also threw in a few little extras for us that I found particularly wonderful to listen to and watch.

The audience instantly warmed to him. He was immediately disarming and very welcoming as he made his way to the microphone to introduce himself and the opening piece, Fantasy in C minor. He had an informal and relaxed air about him. He looked very comfortable on the stage as he explained, in quite a lot of depth, the history of the piece. He calmly took his seat at the piano, composed himself and then began. From that first striking chord and then gently and mysteriously creeping up the keys, it was clear that we were all in for a wonderfully exciting evening. It was my first piano recital and, not sure what to focus on at that point, I looked at his hands, maybe to pick up a few technical tips for myself. I have watched pianists before (albeit in different environments) but I genuinely couldn’t believe his hands were making this breathtaking sound.

The first thought I had was how emotional he was in his playing; almost playful during many of the pieces. Particularly in
Britten’s Holiday Diary: Early Morning Bathe and, a little surprise before the interval, Shchedrin’s Humoreske. He said that his reason for playing this was to wake us up again after Britten’s Holiday Diary: Night.

I think he just wanted to play it. Beautiful, organized confusion and mischief!

Schubert's Impromptu in A Flat was just beautiful. I couldn't  help but imagine (in this piece and The Waldstein) that the piano was a a living thing which needed to be tamed and how John Paul was in complete control of it! Sounds corny, I know, but this is how his playing made me feel. He gave in to every note like he was giving up his soul utterly and completely to this exquisite piece of music.

After the interval he returned and played Liszt's Cantique d’Amour which he and the audience agreed that, if written for any of us, we would certainly want to stay. The piece is a superb declaration of love which was played very poignantly and with tenderness.

He concluded his performance with Beethoven’s Sonata No. 21 (The Waldstein) which I have to say was the ideal way to end the concert. The highlight of the entire performance for me was the first movement, Allegro Con Brio. Listening to it as I write these words just makes me want to experience the performance all over again.

Whether possible or not, the performance was totally exhilarating, yet completely relaxing. Even if you have never been to a piano recital or have already made up your mind about it, give it a try, please. It’s like nothing else in the world. I can only say that I am so happy that my first experience of a piano recital was in such an intimate venue and given by such a wonderful and beguiling artist. Thank you, John Paul Ekins.

 I was thrilled at being given the opportunity to have a chat with John Paul after the concert. He was charming and comforting just like he was on stage. CLICK HERE to read the highlights.