Pianist Benjamin Powell appear at this year’s Summer Festival. We caught up with him to find out more.

Benjamin Powell, piano

What is your favourite piece of music?
I’m ludicrously fickle so it changes daily, although the entirety of Mozart’s the Magic Flute and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms both get top billing!

What’s your favourite memory of GMF?
The Mozart opera gala that was held in St. James’ Church (at the top of my road) in 2016. I wasn’t sure that I could attend the actual concert as I was on parental duties but we popped into the rehearsal. Jonathan Lemalu had just started rehearsing Papageno’s padlock aria, and directed his performance at my children who were absolutely enthralled.

Tell us a little known fact about you…
BBC Radio 2 recently asked me to play – and sing – John Legend’s ‘All of Me’ for a Valentine’s Day special. I had to explain that might have got the wrong man for the job…

Any hobbies?
As it’s not healthy for me to pursue my computer game addiction any more it’s the usual lot of cooking, gardening and reading!

What or who inspired you to become a musician?
If I’m being totally honest my first piano idol was Billy Joel so I suppose he has to take some of the credit. Otherwise top billing would go to the force of nature that was my primary school music teacher, Janet Reeves.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s festival?
Mendelssohn Octet, what a piece!

What’s your career highlight so far?
Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King with Psappha in the Jerusalem Festival is definitely something I won’t forget in a hurry!

Which orchestras or ensembles have you’ve played with?
I’ve played with Psappha (the north of England’s leading contemporary music group)  for 8 years now, and am taking over as the artistic director of the ensemble for next season. Otherwise I have freelanced with all the Manchester orchestras and further afield, but particularly enjoy spending time with the BBC Philharmonic and – most of all – Carrot Productions’ The Picture House Orchestra!

Funniest / most embarrassing moment in music?
I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed as hard as when playing trombone in the Royal Northern College of Music’s pianist’s Second Study Orchestra concert. William Tell has never sounded the same again since!


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