Songlines - James Rhodes pianist
Mental illness, childhood abuse and years without playing a note could not quench James Rhodes’s talent and potential. He’s been compared to Jamie Oliver in his zeal to bring classical music to the masses. He talks to Sheena Hastings.
Hay Literary Festival - 31st of May 2014
Canongate Presents: Letters Live
Rob Brydon, Simon Garfield, James Rhodes, (I’ve forgotten her name), Loo Brealey, (and his), & Benedict Cumberbatch.
[all photos are mine, please just reblog]
The program from the Royal Hall concert :
And I was a bad (really bad) fangirl and recorded the Q&A part (Please don’t share the video youtube link anywhere else! I normally don’t do that but I know many of you wanted to come and just couldn’t make it. You can reblog or share the tumblr post if you like. Thanks!)
The first question was about James opinion on music education at schools. He said he’s very happy someone asked that and said he is doing a tv thing about it at the moment… (the rest of the answer and the rest of the Q&A are uploaded below)
James Rhodes Q&A Harrogate KLICK HERE
So this happened. The one thing I tend not to do when I meet (v awesome) people is annoy them with excited requests for a photo but I had to make an exception this time- purely because I tend to let oppprtunities slip. Above is the delightful, remarkable pianist James Rhodes. His passion radiates from his entire being when he speaks about the lives of each of the composers he plays, which is pleasently endearing as well as encapsulating. Since last year- literally, to this date, a year since I found out about his existence- a spark has ignited in me; the kind created by such passion and touching talent. Listening to his interpretations of Chopin (who kind of gives a spiritual hug depending which piece of his you listen to) and Grieg and Beethoven and Schumann takes you to an entirely different level of being, which I suppose always attracted him to this genre of music, and the playing of the piano itself. He doesn’t just *play* the piano, he becomes it. My mother, who accompanied me this time (yay), said afterwards that his hands and arms became the piano (which I was gutted wasn’t a Steinway). I loved that. It not only had been a wonderful day-start to finish-but to see my mam happy and, for lack of a better word (and for it to be read in the least chavvy way), buzzing. Pure talent. It’s as though James’ hands and arms become the limbs that the piano was never built with (obviously) but like an amputee who needs an arm fitted in order to function a little better- it’s quite the same for James. That random shit aside, seeing him this second time was so much better than the first. I loved the vibe of Soho Theatre in London but there was something more free about the Rift&Co bar in Harrogate, a sense of not being shoved into a basement where it’s so difficult to be found. It had been a scorching day but the air in the bar hall was crisp and fresh and the seating was kind of perfect, giving all people a shot at seeing his hands mutate into the keys, into the other world that the music takes you to. I wasn’t sure if I’d get to meet him after the gig but of course I wanted to. I met him back in March but I was so awkward and my memory has blanked most of it out, not sure why. My mam went out for a smoke, we then scuttled off to the ladies toilets and as we walked back through where he played, people were sitting at the seats and James, I reckon, was about to leave. Feelin’ guilty because the manager was kind of in a hurry to get them off to a restaurant but I’d had two flutes of prosecco and couldn’t really understand nor comprehend anything but excitement and the want to not screw up the chance to speak to a person I most-heartedly admire. Course, I did- as always. Most of the conversation didn’t make sense and they probably thought ‘what IS this chick going on about? What a tit’ which I can empathise with, happening to be myself! Immediately he knew my name and said he had no idea I was coming, to which I replied that I wouldn’t tweet him to inform him because that’s just not something I do. He stole my hat pretty much straight away- nicking it off my head. Since I’d worn it all day my hair was ridiculously flat :( He suited it and reminded me of Johnny Depp’s character in Secret Window. I thought it only fair to ask for his glasses. Y’know when you think of what you’d do if you had a little time with people you most-heartedly admire? Well I really wanted his glasses. This is when I asked for a photo. Something I really never do but THE OPPORTUNITY DID THE THING WHERE IT AROSE. How could I not? I had the pleasure to sit in a room with Stephen Fry in March, saw Derren Brown strolling into 9Bar in Newcastle in June and did nothing about it, despite enjoying their works so much. It’s awesome because the three of them are all buds and through the years I’ve found their work all individually- starting with Derren, most likely around 2005. We spoke for what seemed like ages and although a smile stretches when I think of it, I do recall being annoying and probably spoke too much. Seeing him play, hearing via soundcloud or either one of the two CD’s I have of his, makes me want to play. My fingers begin to want to do what my brain is processing but I’ve never been taught the ‘classics’. When I was youger my cousin Cat and I used to be on the keyboard all the time- what kids weren’t? And we’d play the Simpsons and I found out by improv how to play the main HP theme- but that was it. (Made me smile during the Q&A as he said ‘why practise scales, it’s boring, at least play the Simpsons or…). It also reminded me that my aunt was learning how to play the generic Debussy piece. I love my aunt but, and she may well have such a connection to that universal piece, but I think it’d be best to try and crack a piece that you really feel consumed by when hearing it. The gig was on the 24th and was free, which I feel guilty for, I wanted to pay and I wanted to go to the Royal Theatre gig the day following, 1) for his transcending talent 2) so I could pay for that talent 3) he only played Chopin and I wanted a little more, perhaps some Bach but I’m not sure he did play any on the 25th :) I’m going to sound all hippy and as if I believe in something that would portray me in the light of a slight fool but: 24th July 2013 his documentary Notes From The Inside was televised. My grandmother gave me a newspaper clipping, really for it’s humour, of rodents playing musical instruments- the article dating back to 24th July 2009. And then of course 24th July 2014- I am meeting someone who I truely believe has kept me alive. If I hadn’t found the music, if I hadn’t have watched the documentary I very much doubt that I’d have progressed from my restrictive eating disorder and downward spiral. His story, his triumph over the things that were destroying him have built me up, as well as the help from few friends and online companions. Seeing that he has followed the career path he always wanted and is in a happy relationship- getting married soon- and is a wonderful person does strengthen my mind when it falls deep into the vulnrability of a most depressed state- the majority of the time. Although I will inevitably compare myself to his success and generally kind soul, and beat myself up for being an annoying freak, that is my prob not his. Other people’s success’ should not induce our feeling of failiure. We are all different, with our own individual success’ etc etc. I’d love to talk to him more about music, or at least for him to talk about music. I think the best state you can see another in is their passion (but then again, a racist’s passion is their stupidity in hate of another’s race? *unsure*). I’m writing this here because no one I know cares about what I have to say on this. My aunt called him John after I’d just spoken about it and my cousin’s are not interested in classical music at all. My friends also not, even though Emily has a few of Rachmaninov(Rachmaninoff) and Chopin on her ipod thanks to me. I always suffer such regret after doing most things or at least a crippling sense of ‘NO’ and ‘What the fuck u lil shit’. I’ll try and switch off my head and pretend everything was peachy, for I can only feel a fool for whatever it was the two flute’s of prosecco made me say or do.
Death blowing bubbles on ‘wallpaper’..