Monday 16 February 2015

Meet Alasdair Beatson

Pianist, Alasdair Beatson performs Han Abrahamsen's Double Concerto for violin, piano and strings alongside Thomas Gould and Britten Sinfonia this March. He took some time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about himself;

What has been the highlight of your career so far? 
A few years ago I was Artist-in-Residence in the new concert hall in Perth, the Scottish town where I grew up.  It was for me a unique opportunity to tie two separate parts if my life together - to bring some of my favourite colleagues, including Pekka Kuusisto and the Doric String Quartet, to a truly excellent hall in my pretty and modest home town.   

When are you happiest? 
Playing the music of Fauré!  I've become quite obsessed with it - the beauty of his perfect scores, the adventure in his harmonies, and the ecstatic sweep of his passion - what joy! 

What is your greatest fear? 
I hate spiders and regularly hoover the ivy outside my kitchen window. 

What is your earliest musical memory? 
Of LPs the Beatsons listened to at home - Harry Nilsson's musical fable "The Point", or "Switched-On Bach" which has a magnificently camp album cover and rather sacrilegious electronic-baroque content. 

Which living person do you most admire, and why? 
I marvel at musicians who at the height of the profession retain their artistic integrity and maintain a balanced ego despite enormous pressures and seductions to the contrary - I might mention András Schiff or George Benjamin. 

What was your most embarrassing moment? 
Probably falling over on stage during a televised performance.   

What is your most treasured possession? 
My music scores, which are well-leafed, quite heavily marked, and companions to my continuing exploration of the repertoire. 

What would your super power be? 
To make spiders go weak at the knees. 

If you were an animal what would you be?
I'd hope to be an eagle, perhaps one of the Sea Eagles living on the Isle of Rùm. 

What is your most unappealing habit? 
I sleep indulgently and copiously, an average of nine hours, which seems so wasteful during waking hours. 

What is your favourite book? 
I love to read, mainly contemporary fiction - current favourites are Ned Beauman Boxer Beetle, John Williams Stoner, Salmon Rushdie Midnight's Children and Dave Eggers What is the What. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 
Extravagance with food - eating a bit too well or too often!  I live just a few streets away from Brixton Village - a wonderful indoor market with a vast number of talented, independent, friendly chefs who test my self control on a daily basis. 

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? 
Perhaps some composers who never met but might have much to talk about - Schumann and Fauré, Haydn and Stravinsky, Satie and John Cage.  One would wish to spend time on the seating plan. 

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 
1920's Paris, as lived by Hemingway in his memoir A Moveable Feast

How do you relax away from the concert platform? 
With friends, with books, with whisky, and with walking - around cities, through the countryside and in the hills. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
I don't believe I've achieved anything truly great, but I do think I aspire to it and perhaps someday... 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you? 
That it is possible to strongly hold a belief or desire and simultaneously be open to alternatives.

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy? 
To try to be true to oneself, and true to the music.

Alasdair Beatson performs Han Abrahamsen's Double Concerto at London's Milton Court on Friday 20 March 2015,  Norwich's Theatre Royal on Saturday 21 March 2015 and Saffron Walden's Saffron Hall on Sunday 22 March 2015. Click here for more info and  to book tickets.