To celebrate the 100th anniversary of John Cage’s birth, pianist Rolf Hind, one of our great interpreters of modern piano music, collaborates with acclaimed choreographer Rui Horta, dancer Silvia Bertoncelli and a cat named Mia in a new work that showcases the genius of one of the twentieth century’s great artists. We caught up with Rolf to ask him some quick questions.
What do you fear the most and why?
Death. For all the usual reasons.
What – or where – is perfection?
Everything is as it is meant to be.
What’s your favourite ritual?
Meditation. Also drinking coffee!
Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
One – of many – who just springs to mind: Arundhati Roy. wrote a wonderful book, but didn’t make a ‘career’ of art. Now a very brave and vocal activist and polemicist. True to herself.
What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I wish I’d started the cello when I was young. I adore the instrument, it has a kind of embodiment and sheer physicality that surpasses all the others. Sounds beautiful across an enormous range too.
Tell us about a special memory you have of Southbank Centre?
Ten years ago I played a QEH concert for Boulez’ birthday with newly commissioned pieces which all came out on CD after the event. It was an exciting evening.
If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
Rumi, Kabir, Farinelli, Szymanowski, Bartok, EM Forster, Proust, Rufus Wainwright, Bjork, Messiaen, Lachenmann, Diamanda Galas. That’s just the top dozen!
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Be kind. And start with yourself.
What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
I hardly listen to recorded music. Prefer to make, play, hear or imagine it live. But if I need a boost I often return to the gypsy music of Taraf de Haidouks.
Tell us a bit about how the collaboration for Danza Preparata came about.
The very foresighted artistic director of the Casa da Musica in Porto approached me a couple of years ago and I went to see some work of Rui Horta’s in Lisbon. I was blown away by Rui Horta, as man and artist. He is an extraordinary bundle of energy and a serious polymath, whose work should be even better known than it is.
Sum up Danza Preparata in one sentence.
Exquisite dancing, lighting, concept and music, respectful and playful: a lovely gift for Cage.
How much of an impact do you feel Cage made on 20th century classical music?
A large one: I see him as the Warhol of music (many may disagree!) I don’t always love all the work, but even when I don’t I see it as something akin to the meditation I practise – an opportunity to find new perspective on one’s experience, or to dwell on an idea (like a Zen koan, a kind of riddle..)
It allows listeners, composers and performers to react in a new way. It also marks a serious attempt to integrate the philosophical tenets of certain aspects of Eastern thought with Western sounds, in a much more thorough way than the ‘orientalisme’ that often came before.
It’s also about emancipation: for instruments (redeployed, reconfigured, reinvented) for sound (liberated from the heft of grammar and meaning) and for the USA (liberated from Western Europe!)
What’s next for you?
On November 24th in the Barbican, the wonderful accordionist, James Crabb, premieres my biggest orchestral piece, a concerto called The Tiniest House of Time with the BBCSO.
See Rolf Hind performing John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano in Danza Preparata as part of Ether 2012 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 16 October. Get tickets here.
Filed under: Contemporary Classical, Ether, Queen Elizabeth Hall | Tagged: Classical, classical music, contemporary classical, Ether, Ether 2012, Ether festival, John Cage, London, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Rolf Hind, Southbank Centre | Leave a Comment »