Piano festival aims to create animal magic

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Hebden Bridge Piano Festival is nearly here - and as usual the line-up includes lots of events which are suitable for children and families.

This year’s children’s concert is Saint-Saëns’ popular ‘The Carnival of the Animals’, performed by the Willshire Piano Duo on Sunday, April 23 at 10am. The wonderful pieces that make up ‘Carnival’ will be interspersed with humorous and quirky poems from Ogden Nash’s poem of the same name, read by Hebden Bridge actor Alexandra Mathie who was recently appearing in ‘Amadeus’ at the National Theatre.

The 14 small movements that make up ‘Carnival’ introduce the listener to a different animal, or group of animals, mimicking their voices or the way they move.

From the roaring lion to the elephant, the tortoise, a conversation between two braying donkeys, or the magical sound of an aquarium, Saint-Saëns innovatively brings these animals to life. The poems complement the music, gently poking fun at the different animal characteristics.

Other concerts that are suitable for everyone include festival director David Nelson’s own contribution, A Pianist’s History of 20th Century Music on Saturday, April 22 at 9.30am when, along with some of his piano-playing friends, he will explore and perform music by favourite composers of that period, in a lighthearted and entertaining way.

Each evening there’s a free concert in the Town Hall café, suitable for all ages. There will be jazz piano on Friday and Sunday evenings at 6.30pm. And on Saturday, April 22 there’s a hands-on event with the Robotic Piano presented by Hebden Bridge company Noisy Toys, when anyone can have a go at making crazy music using various electronic controllers.

The Piano Festival starts on Friday April 21 and features an international line-up, with pianists from Portugal, America, Switzerland, Romania, Canada, Jordan and Scotland performing over the weekend. Headline artists include the 1991 Leeds International Piano Competition winner Artur Pizarro, internationally acclaimed young virtuoso Alexandra Dariescu, Israeli-American pianist David Greilsammer, Chetham’s School of Music’s Head of Keyboard Murray McLachlan and the New York-based jazz legend Marc Cary. The full programme can be seen online or in the brochures which are available from outlets around town. Half of all events are either free or cost £10 and under per ticket.

Tickets for all events are for sale online at www.hebdenbridgepianofestival.com and at the box office at Hebden Bridge Town Hall from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4.30pm up to the festival weekend.