Acclaimed London-based Australian pianist Piers Lane is performing in Canberra on Thursday night with a "program of treasures by piano composer giants Rachmaninov and Chopin".
He'll be performing at the Snow Concert Hall at the Canberra Grammar School at 7pm on Thursday.
Tickets are available here.
Five times soloist at the BBC Proms, Lane has a worldwide reputation as an engaging, searching and highly versatile performer. He has written and presented more than 100 programs for BBC Radio 3, including the 54-part series The Piano.
At the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished services to the arts.
In 1994 he was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music London, and is the artistic director of the Sydney International Piano Competition.
Despite a busy schedule in the national capital, Lane, who grew up in Brisbane, was able to give an insight into his brilliant career
Why did you want to perform in the Snow Concert Hall?
"I've heard wonderful things about the acoustics and the hall is so impressive from what I've seen so far.
"Ana de la Vega, as the artistic director, asked me to play and I feel honoured to be among the first to do so. I have played many times over the years in Canberra, with the Canberra Symphony, for Musica Viva, with Dame Patricia Routledge for Andrew McKinnon.
"It will be lovely to see members of the Canberra audience again and to experience this hugely welcome addition to the city's arts facilities."
What was it like to perform for royalty?
"I met the Queen four times and spoke to her about Australia among other things, went to the Palace three times too, but never performed for her.
"However, it was through an Australian connection that I performed for the King, when he was Prince of Wales. I gave the first public performance in Australia, but also in Wales, on the Australian Stuart and Sons piano.
"The then Prince Charles was in the audience in Cardiff and afterwards chatted to me on stage. I remember I couldn't attend a reception, because I was rushing off to Prague to perform with orchestra the following night. His Majesty seemed envious - I gathered Prague was one of his favourite cities."
How did it feel to be named the best pianist in Australia?
"That was a prize in the very first Sydney International Piano Competition when I was 19 - a long time ago!
"It's extraordinary how seeds sown early on sprout and grow though - little did I know then I'd be artistic director of that famous competition all these decades later! I also cannot believe it's on from next week - July 5 to 22.
"We haven't been able to have a live competition since 2016, so it's thrilling to see it all coming together this week, welcoming the 32 international competitors and the seven international jurors. If you can't make it to Sydney to listen live, you can hear it all for free on the livestream. ArtSound in Canberra will broadcast a lot of it too."
What age did you start to play and how many hours a day did you practice?
"I started at seven years of age and practice times have always varied considerably, depending on all sorts of factors - from one to nine hours a day once or twice.
"I didn't have to be forced to practice when I was young though - playing was fun and I tended to sight read scores that were way too advanced for me, but I was excited to discover the music for myself.
"My parents both taught music, so I somehow absorbed a lot without trying too hard."
You are taking a masterclass in Canberra - what is your greatest tip to young pianists?
"Make every phrase mean something special!"
Do you have any connections to Canberra?
"I have cousins there and friends too - but Canberra gave me a very helpful start back in 1978.
"In those days, the Churchill Foundation gave one Special Performance Award Fellowship, with money for two years of study overseas.
"Four of us were chosen to compete for it in the Llewelyn Hall and I was the lucky recipient - so my whole international adventure sort of started with Canberra."
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