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Piano Not Included

Something strange is happening in a Bedfordshire village. The unfamiliar strains of chamber music are emanating from the village hall. Then applause, not of ten pairs of hands but of many more, mingled with the sounds of children. Children enjoying classical music? A different venue, this time in Hitchin, is filled with another audience. The average age here is somewhere between forty and fifty with other age groups being represented - the very young to the very old - again, being entertained by instrumentalists more familiar in a concert hall, but enjoying themselves no less. A music festival coordinator is grinning from ear to ear. 'It is a full house and among the familiar silver heads are new, younger ones.' A music society, with the members' average age of around seventy is welcoming people who have never thought of attending a local concert, their usual preference for an evening's entertainment is at a major venue in London, the strangers tell their delighted hosts. The planner of the evening was nervous about allowing an unheard of performance concept into the traditional folds of her audience, but now there are only overjoyed faces which she sees.

It is in these venues that what some may call a miracle is occurring. At a time when classical music concerts are struggling with numbers, the Goldman Ensemble's irresistible performances of Piano Recital (Piano Not Included) are bucking the trend.

It is difficult to explain what Piano Recital (Piano Not Included) is. Some may describe it as a chamber music concert with sprinklings of humour; others would say that it is theatre centred around exceptional live music. Whoever you ask, all agree that it is a concept that no one has seen before but makes perfect sense when one is witness to it. As a fan put it: 'too hard to explain, just go to see it, you'll love it!'

Essentially, Piano Recital (Piano Not Included) explores the backstage disasters as well as the daily joys and struggles of professional musicians with humour, in a combination of music and theatre. It is unlike other music humour performances. The audience feels as if it is at a chamber music recital and a theatrical performance at the same time. The music, skilfully arranged by one of the Goldman Ensemble's members, Ortal Goldman, is at the core of the performance. The comedy and theatre are secondary but as all the musicians are in character throughout and as there is a clear presence of a story line, Piano Recital (Piano Not Included) is not unlike a theatrical show. The music is taken entirely from the standard concert repertoire and the selection neither alienates the music connoisseur nor the novice.

What is it about this particular performance that is causing a quiet revolution? With letters saying such things as 'thank you for reminding me why I love music ... after many years of not doing so I will certainly be attending more concerts now' and 'this was a wonderful introduction for my daughter to music. Thank you for showing me how much fun classical music is', it is surely spreading. Perhaps it is the charm and contagious joie de vivre of the musicians. Perhaps it is the humour of the universal experience as captured by the sub heading of Piano Recital (Piano Not Included), 'a hilarious show for anyone who has ever had a really bad day'. Or perhaps it is simply because the Goldman Ensemble presents exceptional music in the way it was intended: for everyone to enjoy according to their own understanding and taste as, after all, music is a universal language and speaks to us all in our hearts and minds, purely and directly. And the Goldman Ensemble gives each of us the permission and facility to experience this.

In fact, the Goldman Ensemble is so passionate that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy their performances that they keep their costs down by presenting their work in small venues such as church and village halls. In addition, through their many years of experience in working with the ill and disabled via their work in music therapy, the Goldman Ensemble realise these people wish for 'normality' and the desire to leave the daily reminder of their situations, if just for a short while. The Goldman Ensemble sets aside tickets for local disabled and ill people so that they are able to attend performances in a 'normal' manner, away from their institutions and the everyday.


Posted: 16 November 2011 by Goldman Ensemble

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