<< -- 2 -- Bill Newman MUSICAL SOUNDS AND COLOURS
Somewhere behind the scenes, although your parents were not directly responsible for your musical interest, they must have offered a huge amount of support.
'My father is a medical surgeon, and my grandfather was a lawyer. They both possessed perfect pitch and that is where I got it from. My grandfather played the guitar and sang at the same time. He had a beautiful tone. His sister played the piano and taught at the large Athens University. So, although I don't come from direct musical connections -- but a medical-lawyer family background instead -- the women, including my grandmother's sisters, all played the piano, with my father's sister also becoming a teacher.' The piano, an upright -- not always kept totally in tune -- had a perfect action to match the pianist's touch when Eugenia was developing her skills. A grand piano was purchased when she became sixteen.
Following her Diploma with Honours supervised by Max Halleker in 1993, she won First Prize with Distinction two years later at the National Piano Competition organised by the Christian Youth Association of Greece.
Her present time teacher in London, one time with the Guildhall School of Music, is the celebrated James Gibb. How was that set up?
'Through Christopher Elton. He was my teacher here during my first two years in this country. He recommended me to go to Jimmy Gibb, so I went along to the Guildhall for an audition. He selected me, and I have been with him ever since. I am one of his few pupils, although at eighty-five he no longer does full-time teaching. Before that, he had loads of students.' He has always been noted as a music specialist (remembering his contributions to BBC Radio 3's 'Studies in Interpretation') and the right and wrong way of performing a work. 'I understand what you are saying, but there can be alternatives like playing J S Bach with or without the pedal. His Schubert (a deleted Meridian disc of two Sonatas) is the most amazing I have ever heard. I really respect him as a human being, a teacher, a musician and a pianist.' Also, as an amenuensis? 'I stay with him because I know I am going somewhere, although he is a tough teacher to be with.'
A First break with conventions
'At fifteen, I had my revolution. I was feeling different but still wanted to remain part of the All. That made me uncomfortable with myself, and I remember telling my mother that I didn't enjoy being different. I had my school friends and colleagues, while still wanting to be a member of the team. I wouldn't practice, but remain with my friends to go to all the parties.' Did this isolate you from them, imprisoned in your own cocoon? 'There have been phases in my life which have either been very crowded or where I have experienced loneliness. I had to be alone to do what I wanted to, but this is tricky because you get used to being a loner in a particular frame of mind that could continue for the remainder of your life. That can be unhealthy, specifically as a human being. I therefore believe that you need a balanced psychology in order to perform well, otherwise you go to extremes.'
Copyright © 5 December 2004
Bill Newman, Edgware UK