Multi-tasking man at the piano

Multi-award-winning concert pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk has performed with major orchestras across the world but says that appearing with the Hallé is something special.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 18 February, 2016, 16:04
Concert pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk

Under Finnish conductor Okko Kamu, they will be at the City Hall on Saturday with a programme of Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Sibelius Symphony No 5.

Gavrylyuk has appeared with the Manchester-based orchestra in a one-off concert.

“It was a most exciting experience,” says the Ukrainian-born pianist. “They are such an inspiring group of people.

“I found them to be so proficient in the rehearsal room and then in the concert hall.

“They are sensitive to every shape and movement that happens. I am really looking forward to the Grieg.”

He flew in from his home in the Netherlands on Tuesday morning, rehearsed in the afternoon and the following morning, and then performed that evening the first of five concerts. It’s very much the norm for soloists but still seems a short time to achieve a seamless integration.

“It’s a subtle process getting a connection to a group of people who make up a symphony orchestra,” observes Gavrylyuk . “Every one of them is a soloist in his or her eyes. It’s a miracle to have everyone creating this magical unity – and the audience as well. It’s an inspiring collaboration between orchestra and audience.

“To have the same impulse and flow of emotion in energy and thought which unites people from all sorts of different background in a moment is truly powerful.”

That collaborative side is very different from his early days as a pianist (he began studying aged seven and gave his first concert aged nine). “Yes, there were hours of practice and some of the big technical stuff was really hard. I remember propping up a book to read on the piano while I practised all the technical bits.”

Multi-tasking from an early age, it seems. “And it still goes on when you are a parent where you have to be aware of all the colours of the rainbow and sounds of different varieties at the same time,” says the father of daughters, aged four and just under one.

It makes all the travelling that bit harder, but not only that. “They have changed the way I hear myself and music in general,” he reveals. “I play completely differently since they were born. It has definitely given a new dimension. It’s so much easier for me to play things like Mozart and especially the children’s themes of Schumann. Suddenly it makes good sense when you are hearing it with the innocence and pure mind of a child.”

On Wikipedia he is described as a USSR-born Australian pianist – what does he see as his national identity? “I have ended up with a little part of myself taken from different places. I lived in Germany for seven years, I was in Sydney for nine years after the first 13 years of my life in Ukraine.

“I miss the Ukrainian culture and tradition and the Australian sense of spirit - and right now the weather.”