Thalia Myers, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?

There was no piano in the house when I was a small child, but whenever we visited my mother’s sister, a talented and accomplished amateur pianist, I was transfixed by the sound of her playing and longed to be able to do it too. And at the age of ten, I heard a recording of Dinu Lipatti playing Chopin and never looked back.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Three fine and generous teachers: Cyril Smith, Ilona Kabos and Peter Feuchtwanger; musical colleagues; my students

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Learning how to practise; learning how to harness performance nerves; learning how to balance perfectionism and realism.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Never more than moments in either. That’s not to say that I don’t love working toward the possibility of being a bit more proud though – or that I don’t love performing.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Really, I don’t know. It’s very exciting to play new music, of course, for all sorts of reasons – but I’m not sure I play it any better than older repertoire.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

No master plan. But I try to build in variety and a decent amount of new challenges. Always some new music.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Wigmore Hall, for its acoustic warmth and clarity and for being just small enough for performers to establish communicative intimacy with the audience.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Far too numerous and variable to list. At the moment I can hear my partner, Timothy Salter, practising the piano part of Ravel’s glorious ‘Scheherazade’ down in his music room and I can feel a possible Ravel fest coming on – but it might be different by Tuesday.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Ah, this one’s easy! Many years ago, as a student, I attended a Schubert concert given by the Amadeus Quartet with the pianist Clifford Curzon in that great barn of a place, the Royal Festival Hall. I sat at the very back of the hall because that was all I could afford; from this distance the musicians on the stage seem vastly distant, and so, usually, does the playing, especially if it’s chamber music! In the middle of the concert, Curzon played a group of Moments Musicaux and such was the focus and intensity of his playing that the Festival Hall seemed to shrink to the size of a drawing room as he drew us into a performance of exquisite musicianship and intimacy.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

The co-existence of spontaneity and discipline; a balance between perfectionism and realism; the supreme importance of listening.

What is your most treasured possession?

Memory

 

‘Spectrum 5’ is a unique collection of contemporary works for solo piano. The 15 pieces included have been specially commissioned by Thalia Myers from some of today’s leading composers and reflect current compositional trends. They range in difficulty from Grade 6 to Diploma, and are suitable for student, amateur and professional pianists of all ages. The aim of the series is to commission some of the finest composers to write pieces of modest length and difficulty, while preserving the essential characteristics of their compositional style.

Thalia Myers has earned an international reputation as an exceptional pianist of wide-ranging musical sympathies. She has performed and broadcast as soloist and chamber musician in over thirty countries; she is dedicated equally to disseminating new works and reviving neglected older repertoire. Her repertoire and solo recordings, most recently on the Metronome, NMC and Usk labels, encompass music from the eighteenth century to the present and include six albums of contemporary works for solo piano.

A lifelong champion of new music, she has commissioned numerous works and given many first performances and première broadcasts of British works throughout the world. Composers who have written new works for her include David Bedford, Philip Cashian, Kim Helweg, Alun Hoddinott, Gabriel Jackson, Elisabeth Lutyens, Patrick Nunn, Jeremy Dale Roberts, Edwin Roxburgh, Timothy Salter and Howard Skempton.

Her combined interests in contemporary music, music education and the promotion of amateur music-making led her to commission the first of the award-winning Spectrum anthologies of short, musically uncompromising, technically accessible piano pieces in 1995. Published in 1996 by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, this was followed by Spectrum 2 (1999), Spectrum 3 (2001) and Spectrum 4 (2005) and Spectrum for Piano Duet (2012). Spectrum 5 will be published in July 2016. In 2000, collaborating with the Royal College of Music Junior Department, Bath Spa University College and  COMA (contemporary music-making for amateurs) she commissioned the Chamber Music Exchange, works of similar purpose for piano trio, string quartet and wind quintet. The Chamber Music Exchange is housed in the British Music Collection at Sound and Music.

Born in the West of England, Thalia Myers received her musical education at the Royal College of Music, London, where she was a pupil of Cyril Smith. She later studied with Ilona Kabos and Peter Feuchtwanger. Her widespread piano teaching experience has incorporated working with students (Royal Holloway, University of London, where she taught for many years) children (the Royal College of Music Junior Department) and professional performers. She has given master classes and lecture recitals and run projects with composition students at conservatoires and universities internationally; these have included the University of Toronto, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and, in London, the Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban and the Royal Academy of Music.

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