Acclaimed pianist Christian Blackshaw is artistic director for new Herefordshire festival, Hellensmusic

Hereford Times: Christian Blackshaw. Picture: James Hill Christian Blackshaw. Picture: James Hill

HELLENSMUSIC, a new classical music festival at Hellens Manor, has accomplished a masterstroke in securing the celebrated pianist Christian Blackshaw as its artistic director.

The virtuoso pianist was persuaded to perform at the mini-festival by the presence of an outstanding piano that is one of the best examples of a Steinway concert grand in the UK.

“We were extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to acquire the piano,” said Adam Munthe of Hellens Manor.

“It is truly magnificent, the sound is breathtaking. It will be a great privilege to witness the combination of maestro and piano at the festival.”

Christian Blackshaw gave up his international career as a concert pianist and vanished from the world stage some 20 years ago to devote himself to bringing up his young family after his wife died.

It was only towards the end of 2009 that he started rebuilding his career. He recently played to rave reviews and huge acclaim at London’s Wigmore Hall with a Mozart sonata cycle.

His playing combines tremendous emotional depth with great understanding and has been hailed for its “sheer musicality and humanity”.

On Friday, May 3 Christian Blackshaw will give a solo performance, and on Saturday, May 4 he will perform with Màtè Szücs, principal viola of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and on Sunday, May 5 he will give a masterclass with exceptional students from Royal Northern College, Royal Welsh College and Birmingham Conservatoire.

The festival concerts will be staged in the 16th century Great Barn with a pre-concert supper on both Friday and Saturday held in Hellens Stone Hall.

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