North Finchley Festival

Live music in the local community. Bars. Cafes. Pubs.

Yesterday, I played live piano at M’S Place on the High Road, N12, as part of the North Finchley Festival (known also as the North Finchley Fest).

An internet television channel interviewed me before I began and later recorded coverage of me playing Clair de Lune by Debussy. It was a strange moment and I felt both nervous and confident as I concentrated on my breathing and the idea of the breath anchoring me, in order to remain calm and focused.

I played for about forty minutes, a mixture of classical piano, ragtime and lighter songs from the shows.

I look forward to more opportunities for taking part in events like these, participating in the local community, and gaining invaluable experience in gigging.

Till next time.

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A Stand Up Musician, Sort Of

We’ve all seen or heard stand up comedians. They get up and do a slot in venues, gaining valuable experience and exposure.

In the past few months, I’ve been working on an equivalent in small settings in suburban north London, UK. Generally, I do a mixture of classical piano and ragtime, lasting between seven and thirteen minutes.

If the mood is right, I’ll start with the third movement from Beethoven’s fourth Sonata in E-flat, then follow with the Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. I might end with a popular like I Love Paris by Cole Porter or add another short classical piece (time permitting). Chopin works sometimes, but not always. Each audience is different.

I enjoy these opportunities to share my piano playing with others and I value the chance to begin with a technically challenging Beethoven movement, which people always seem to appreciate.

Till next time.

Piece Of The Day – Appassionata by Beethoven

I’m one of those people fortunate enough to have the ability to play works featured on Classic FM or Radio Three.

This morning, I enjoyed sitting at the piano and playing the Appassionata by Beethoven, the Second Ballade by Chopin, Hungarian Dances nos 1, 2 and 5 by Brahms, and the Nineteenth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt.

The Appassionata breaks the traditional boundaries of the Sonata, developing First Movement Sonata Form and introducing the abridged second and third movements. Despite the heights of emotion present in the writing, the work remains firmly in the Classical tradition, and not Romantic.

A fulfilling morning. Tired arms and wrists. Afterwards, I headed to Coffee Republic to practise my German with a friend from Germany.

Busier Than Usual

I haven’t had time to blog here recently. I went back to work after an extended summer break and have an extra musical work playing jazz and light classical piano in north London.

I’m also preparing posts for a sister website blog that tells my musical story from scratch.

Plus, my language studies. And the magazine interview last week.

Till next time.

New Site, MyPianoBio

I’ve completed a basic draft of material for the new site and it should go live in the next few weeks.

MyPianoBio, a sister site to this one, contains the story of my musical journey, culminating in my experiences as a recital pianist, newly arrived in London.  

It also picks up on several other themes.

Many thanks again to WordPress for the powerful online publishing tools! 

The Difference Between Music And Sound 

“Music is sound that lives,” Lawrence Estrey, Pianist and Writer.

I’m about to combine my two great passions (music and writing) with web layout and Content Management Systems to create an exciting new project, My Musical Journey, detailing my own experiences, highs and lows.

Watch this space. 

A Summer Soiree, Piano

Tonight, I will perform an informal recital in a private setting close to where I live.  This is the programme:

Chopin: Nocturne in F minor

Nocturne in E minor

waltz in C sharp minor

Brahms

Hungarian Dances 1, 2, and 4

Interval

Grieg: 

Nocturne

Wedding Day at Troldhaugen

Scott Joplin:

Maple Leaf Rag

Liszt:

Hungarian Rhapsody no 19

The Joys Of Recording – Indie

As a classically trained musician and past scholarship holder in piano performance, I, like many other classically trained performers, looked forward to the day I would sign a recording contract. Who wouldn’t, given the years of training and aspirations?

A couple of hundred concerts on, along with experience at several smaller concert halls and an appearance at Edinburgh Fringe, and I began to understand that the recording deal would probably not materialise, especially as I did not have agent representation.

For a while, I continued performing whenever possible and polished my repertoire, tackling a number of the Liszt studies and getting a reasonable technical grasp on the second and third scherzos by Chopin. I also loved to play Beethoven’s Waldstein, which I knew from memory.

Web 2 came along – and with it, file sharing.

YouTube followed.

Over a ten-year period, three technically minded friends recorded me on separate occasions. Eventually I put the best tracks together to form my own CD, titled Classical Piano – Lawrence Estrey. I marketed the project myself and made a modest amount on the CD’s, but I never did it for the money. Only the exposure and experience.

Since then, I’ve got a better phone and downloaded Titanium Recorder, a simple app that lets users record live performances. The user can select the level of quality. MP3 BitRate works fine for a basic “live” semi-professional recording. No distortion, but not quite up to record label quality. This year, I’ve recorded eleven tracks, converted the tracks to still image videos and uploaded them to YouTube.

Early days, but my discography is growing steadily now, thanks to the internet. On a positive note, aiming high encourages me to practise more.

Just a few of my thoughts.