Read about various ventures organised by Lorraine Liyanage and Frances Wilson in Pianist magazine. Currently available online and soon to be in print…
JOIN THE LONDON PIANO MEETUP GROUP!
Everything you need to know…
The London Piano Meetup Group was created when creators Lorraine Liyanage and Frances (Fran) Wilson met at a course run by Fran’s teacher. They formed an instant bond, not only because they had chosen the same two pieces by Liszt and Messiaen for their Diploma recitals, but also through a shared love of all things piano and a desire to support and inspire other amateur pianists to get together to perform, share repertoire and socialise. ‘We enjoy performing and we love meeting other pianists!’ says Lorraine, who is very active in her local community in south-east London running the busy and successful SE22 Piano School and Dulwich Music Festival (now entering its third year). ‘We set up London Piano Meetup Group because we felt amateur pianists lack opportunities to perform, particularly on a really fine piano and before an audience.’
‘There are plenty of amateur pianists out there who are really talented but who have chosen a career path other than music’ says Fran, who combines piano teaching with concert reviewing and blogging on music and pianism. ‘Many of them would like to perform. We provide regular performance opportunities in a central London location.’
The events are informal and friendly, and people are encouraged to try out repertoire even if it is not ‘concert ready’. Pianists who play at a less advanced level, duos and accompanists are all very welcome too, and Lorraine and Fran actively encourage beginners to come along because, as Lorraine says, ‘you have to start somewhere with performing, so why not start from the very beginning?’ Some people want to try out exam or diploma repertoire, or may be preparing for a festival or competition, and the group offers valuable performance experience in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. At the last meeting in July, pianists were also joined by a violinist, clarinetist and two cellists.
London Piano Meetup Group also organises workshops and masterclasses with renowned teachers and professional pianists, such as Graham Fitch and GéNIA, creator of Piano-Yoga®. These are designed to offer advice and support from the experts to pianists of all levels.
For those keen on Baroque repertoire, a trip to Handel House Museum gives group members the chance to play a beautiful reproduction Ruckers harpsichord and receive tuition from a leading harpsichordist. There are also visits to concerts and some of the group attend a piano summer school together. And there’s always time for plenty of ‘piano chat’ and socialising afterwards in a local wine bar or pub. Doyennes of the Internet, Lorraine and Fran have been running the group via Meetup, a social networking platform which allows people with shared interests to plan events and get together. The group also has a dedicated Facebook page, Twitter account and blog to ensure that people are regularly kept up to date with forthcoming events, to allow a forum for discussion amongst members, and to give the group a club feel. In future the group will be organised via the website, Facebook/Twitter and a members’ mailing list.
The South London Concert Series is the London Piano Meetup Group’s latest initiative, which offers amateur pianists the chance to perform in a more formal concert setting together with a recital by a professional pianist. This idea grew out of the first London Piano Meetup Group’s event in May 2013, at which Emmanuel Vass, a prize-winning recent graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music, gave a short recital. It was so popular with members, especially the opportunity to meet and talk to Emmanuel afterwards, that Lorraine and Fran decided to extend the format. Keen to support young and emerging musicians, and pianists focusing on lesser-known and rarely-played repertoire, Lorraine and Fran hope the series will provide a unique way of presenting classical and contemporary music in an intimate venue. ‘We very much want to inspire amateurs and promote up and coming professional musicians’, says Fran. ‘And of course it’s another great way to enjoy music with friends.’
‘A really enjoyable evening in a convenient and suitable venue. Met some great people and had a thoroughly good time. Thank you’ – Richard