Rachmaninov with piano

International pianist, Peter Donohoe, in two-day Rachmaninov Gala in Ripon Cathedral

21 September 2022

World-renowned pianist, Peter Donohoe, and St Cecilia Orchestra will be celebrating the life and work of Rachmaninov, probably the last of the great pianist/composers, in back-to-back gala concerts on October 8th and 9th in Ripon Cathedral. It’s a rare chance to enjoy and compare each of Rachmaninov’s five great works for piano and orchestra: the four piano concertos and the ever-popular Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini.

Responding to a challenge 5 years ago, Peter Donohoe, who is much in demand as a soloist across the globe, agreed to play all of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos with Xen Kelsey and the St Cecilia Orchestra. The last time that Peter had performed all of the works in this format was in 1984 in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Peter Donohoe CBE is one of the UK’s leading pianists and a formidable exponent of Rachmaninov’s music. He won the silver award in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1982 and has since built an international reputation as a performer, jurist and also for his wide range of recordings.

Peter Donohoe CBE
Peter Donohoe CBE

The two-day gala offers a unique opportunity to savour, in juxtaposition, Rachmaninov’s greatest piano works, spanning his long life as an exiled aristocrat from pre-revolutionary Russia. He was a man with strong religious convictions who was never able to return to his homeland. These were powerful influences behind his wonderfully nostalgic and emotional style.

Peter Donohoe said:

The music reflects his insecurity about his artistic validity and a permanent fear of death hanging over him – his doctors had warned him from an early age that he would have a very shortened life – a fear that permeates throughout his music.

Maestro Xenophon Kelsey MBE and I go back a very long way – to a time when I was a music student in Manchester. Having played a great variety of music together over the years, and most recently three times in Ripon with the wonderful orchestra he has created in his hometown, I am looking forward to working with him on this cycle of some of the most inspired, original and satisfying music for piano and orchestra ever written.

Rachmaninov with piano

The Gala Concerts form part of Ripon Cathedral’s celebration of 1350 years since St Wilfrid built his basilica church in Ripon in 672 AD. Welcoming the event, The Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson said, “We are delighted that Ripon’s St Cecilia Orchestra and Peter Donohoe will be performing all of Rachmaninov’s five great piano and orchestra works as part of our celebrations, reflecting the importance of music in the life of the Cathedral”.

Tickets are available on-line at www.st-cecilia.org.uk. There is a 10% discount when booking both concerts. Each concert starts at 7.30 pm and will be preceded by a pre-concert introductory talk by Peter Donohoe at 6.15 in the Cathedral.

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