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It is exactly thirty years since I gave my first solo recital at the Cheltenham Festival. I have performed many times since then in the Pitville Pump Room, but last Sunday night I had my first experience of giving a concert in the Pillar Room at the Town Hall. It provided a suitably informal setting for an evening of piano love songs, but the hot and steamy atmosphere in the room was maybe something the audience could have done without... Despite the heat, I enjoyed presenting my collection of new commissions to a very responsive audience. Apart from three romantic pieces (by Schubert, Suk and Granados) the programme consisted entirely of newly written love songs, four of which were premieres. The pieces receiving their first performance were by Nico Muhly, Elena Kats-Chernin, Michael Zev Gordon and Piers Hellawell (the last two seen in the photo here either side of David Matthews).

I have really enjoyed working on the new pieces. Nico Muhly’s Falling Pairs is beautiful, plaintive and deliciously unpredictable. Elena Kats-Chernin’s Roses in a Box, is simple, charming and a little melancholy. Michael Zev Gordon’s For Fiammetta, dedicated to his wife, is a lilting song that becomes quite passionate. Piers Hellawell’s Love on the Escalator, is a characteristically inventive and colourful contribution from a composer who I have collaborated with and admired for three decades.

With concerts finished for the summer, I am now focussing on recording my new album, Sixteen Contemporary Love Songs, which will feature the fourteen pieces that I have commissioned (the full list can be seen on the Contemporary page of this website) and the winners of the under-25 and over-25 categories of my Love Song Composing Competition. The album will be released on Orchid Classics next summer.

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William Howard
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