A celebration of the life of Andrew Ball -‘The thinker pianist’ at the R.C.M London

A heartfelt celebration of Andrew Ball finished with a strange unexpectedly moving twist last night.

Sumptuous Brahms in a tribute of sensibility and passion
Elisabeth Perry,violin;Simon Rowland- Jones ,viola;Melissa Phelps,cello;Julian Jacobson,piano.

Performances from his illustrious friends and colleagues with Andante’s ,Adagio’s,Adieu ,and even Silent Noon.

Vanessa Latarche ,RCM Head of Keyboard Studies and Associate Director for Partnerships in Asia

An eulogy from Vanessa Latarche,the magnificent Head of Keyboard who Andrew Ball had bequeathed to her caring hands in 2005.
But the last performance was left to Thomas Kelly,his musical son,who Andrew had taken under his wing as a youth at the Purcell School and later had brought to perfect his extraordinary talent at the RCM .
Tom came on in a beautiful new jacket to celebrate the father figure that Andrew had been right up to the end of his long fight with Parkinson’s.

Thomas Kelly a moving tribute to his mentor Andrew Ball

It was a jacket that he bought especially with the fee from a concert he gave a few days earlier for the Keyboard Trust.A concert that to say little was sensational!
He and Benjamin Grosvenor are bathed in a sense of style from a different age -The Golden Age of piano playing- of an ultra sensibility to sound and an ease of playing that is always horizontal like swimming in water never vertical like laying bricks.
A pianist who listens to himself and is in love with the sounds he can conjure out of a black box of strings and hammers.
A supreme illusionist the one I had heard five years earlier in competition for the Joan Chissell Schumann prize.He already had a sound of his own and of course ran off with the prize that Joan Chissell has bequeathed to the college.
It was she that had penned :’Mr Rubinstein turned baubles into gems’ as Rubinstein had ravished us in the Royal Festival Hall with a selection of miniatures from the ‘Doll Suite’ by his friend and protégée,Villa Lobos.
Carnaval is certainly not a bauble but the pictures that Schumann depicts were gems indeed in Tom’s hands.
Andrew had come in especially to support his star pupil and friend.
To see them together afterwards belied the refined aristocratic performance that had won him Joan’s prize.
Today Tom came on in his beautiful new tuxedo to pay homage to his teacher and friend,
No Adagios or Adieu’s for him but an extraordinary performance of Busoni’s Carmen Fantasy.Full of radiance and sunshine with a scintillating display of his- their artistry.Where in every note there are hundreds of possibilities of sound that makes the music speak in a way that is so rare in these times of super virtuosistic pianists where quantity seems to have taken precedence over quality!
This is the great lesson that Andrew Ball has bequeathed to us with his remarkable young protégée.
But at the end of the visionary Carmen fantasy clouds appear dampening the high spirits as tragedy takes over.
It was here that Tom plunged straight into the ‘Liebestod’ by Wagner in the famous transcription of his son in law,Liszt.
It was here that the emotion struck too deeply and Tom had to stop,he could not continue.
Fatigue and emotion had taken over and it was a moving and sincere tribute to a remarkable man much missed!
I rang him immediately afterwards and asked if he would like to meet and suggested he join the faculty of friends and colleagues and his actual mentor Dmitri Alexeev.

He agreed but confided that he felt so embarrassed!
To show one’s emotions so openly in front of so many illustrious colleagues was the greatest and sincerest tribute that he could ever have made !
Bravo Thomas forward and upwards in celebration of the art of Andrew Ball

Madeline Boreham and Francesca Lauri with a sumptuous performance of Vaughan William Silent Noon
David Campbell and Catherine Edwards leaving the stage in respectful silence after a heartfelt performance of ‘Adieu’by Woolwich


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