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Reflections with Jayson Gillham

15 Jul 2019
  • Meet the Artists
by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Reflections with Jayson Gillham

Australian virtuoso Jayson Gillham performed Beethoven’s entire cycle of Piano Concertos over two weeks and four concerts this past June. In the weeks following, Jayson wrote a short reflection on his time with us.

The Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle project with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has been an absolute dream come true. I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from audiences both in the hall and across the airwaves.  Over that intense two week period, rehearsing and performing some of the greatest music ever written for this genre, I made many new friends in this vibrant orchestra and forged a lasting friendship and musical partnership with Nicholas Carter.

Through this incredible experience I have been able to find a deeper appreciation for Beethoven and his approach to the piano as both composer and performer, and an insight into this key moment in European history. It has only made me want to explore Beethoven even more.

Two weeks in situ with the same orchestral players and same conductor is a rare experience for an itinerant soloist.  So often we meet the orchestra and conductor just the day before the concert, there is one performance, and then we move on to the next. I have even performed concertos where there is no rehearsal until the day of the concert. It is very easy to fall into the trap of playing in a safe, predictable way, producing a stock-standard performance, one that is similar to the last time the orchestra played that concerto.

So to have more time to really listen to each other and develop a shared vision for the sound world and rhetoric of this music has been a very freeing and empowering experience for me. I feel that we all learnt a lot from playing with each other and were able to treat the rehearsal process as something closer to chamber music.  One of the things I love about the ASO is that the players are enthusiastic and very quick to take on new ideas, which means that in rehearsal we maximise the time we have, and in performance we can all listen and react spontaneously to unexpected and often delightful turns of phrase like chamber musicians.

It has been an immense privilege to be offered the chance to perform and record the Beethoven concerto cycle in my early thirties – an opportunity most pianists could never dream of in their lifetime and for that I am incredibly grateful for the trust in which the ASO and ABC have placed in me!

I only wish I could have stayed in Adelaide longer to get a better feel for the city and to explore some of the surrounding areas. But I have a hunch that I’ll be back.

– Jayson Gillham

Jayson with ASO Concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto and Principal
Conductor Nicholas Carter in rehearsals at Grainger Studio.

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