THSH’s Head of Artistic Programming, Richard Hawley led the pre-concert conversation with Maria João Pires and Miloš Popović who performed piano duos on Tuesday 07 November 2017.
Beloved pianist, Maria João Pires, announced she will retire from public performances and touring from next year at the beginning of the season. Her last Birmingham appearance at Town Hall therefore had increased resonance and meaning for those lucky enough to be able to attend.
Pires has admittedly never enjoyed performing on stage and is well known for her belief that concert formats should change to be more informal and relaxed. Despite her reservations, Maria’s live performances have been immensely popular with audiences all over the world.
Richard Hawley asks why she is choosing to retire:
I have been on stage for too long. My first public concert was when I was four and I’m now 73. That’s almost 70 years. I think there is always a time to stop things and there is a lot of stress. I was never a stage person I was a communication person.
Going further Maria touches upon her feelings towards live performance:
Connection to the audience is essential for me. Music is a human language, a spiritual language. Listening is difficult and so is playing so we share a moment together. So being alone on stage… it’s a kind of torture, if you could come on stage I would feel better.
She even gave insights into that performance - a lunchtime concert in Amsterdam conducted by Riccardo Chailly, where he starts the orchestra in front of a huge audience, you can watch the look of horror on Maria’s face as she realises that has started a different concerto than the one she was expecting to play
Miloš Popović is a rising star in the classical pianist world. He has worked with Maria on numerous occasions. In 2016 they were due to perform together at Town Hall however Maria fell ill. Rather than call off the performance Milos decided to go ahead anyway and spoke with Richard about how he revived a whole solo programme in under 48 hours and just what he thinks of the competitive world of Classical music...
You can say someone plays well but it’s usually how individual they are, how fast they can play… we compare and this is just an illusion of art and it is not playing truthfully.
To find out more listen to the pre-concert conversation with these two intriguing artists and their individual approaches to the world of performance.