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Pianists in the Ballroom at Wyastone Leys
by Simon Callaghan - Director of Music at Conway Hall

The last 11 months of covid restrictions have led many of us to reconsider our daily routines, work schedules and priorities, myself included. The first lockdown reminded me just how important the piano is to me (not having one in my small flat in London), and I am so grateful to the people at Nimbus Records for inviting me to house my Steinway in the wonderful ballroom at Wyastone Leys. I began my Patreon channel last month, making piano music videos in this beautiful room with an illustrious history. The ballroom was used from 1976 until 1995 (when Wyastone Concert Hall came into use) for all the recordings released by Nimbus including those by the Medici Quartet, Paco Peña, Oscar Shumsky and Anoushka Shankar.

My own connection with Wyastone comes from a little more recently. My teacher at Chetham’s, the late, great Bernard Roberts recorded his first analogue ‘direct to disc’ and his subsequent digital Beethoven sonata and variation cycles in the ballroom. The 32 sonatas boxset was the first collection of CDs I bought at the age of 14 when I knew nothing about Wyastone, so it is very special to me that I now have the opportunity to be a part of its history and to bring the ballroom to life again with my videos.

Vlado Perlemuter practising at Wyastone

Shura Cherkassky and Vlado Perlemuter also made many recordings in the ballroom, and I’ve been privileged to see a number of photos – never seen outside Wyastone – capturing their creativity and the inspiration they drew from this special place. It is really quite humbling to sit and practise on the very spot that these wonderful musicians made their magic!

Cherkassky recording at Wyastone

Later this year here on Patreon, I will delve a little more into the work of Roberts, Cherkassky and Perlemuter at Wyastone, and will share more photos of their sessions.

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