Pianist Jâms Coleman

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Hi JâmsThanks so much for taking time to chat to us ahead of your concert at Dore Abbey, Herefordshire on July 6th 2024.  Firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A photo of leading British pianist Jâms Coleman by Matthew Johnson

I’m originally from Anglesey in North Wales. I live in Cardiff with my partner and enjoy walking, especially along the coast or in the mountains (the Brecon Beacons is an area that I particularly love).

I feel very fortunate to have such a varied musical life. Alongside my work as a soloist, I perform primarily as a ‘collaborative pianist’ which means that I have the opportunity to work with lots of inspiring singers and instrumentalists. This collaborative element to the work is a constant source of energy for me.

We’re so excited that you’ve agreed to perform another concert for us, and of course, recently agreed to become a patron of Concerts for Craswall.  What drew you to chamber music in the first place and the cello in particular?

When I first went to a chamber music concert, I was struck by the interplay between the musicians and thought it looked like such a special and enjoyable way to make music. After years of diligently learning and performing the piano on my own, I realised that making music with others was my calling!

Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you as a musician/cellist?

The amazing thing about working as a chamber musician is that I get to work with other musicians that I admire and this has hugely influenced my approach as a musician and pianist. Aside from this, the most formative influences are from Professor Christopher Elton (who I learnt with during my undergraduate at Cambridge University and then during my Masters at the Royal Academy of Music) and the coaching that I received from Ferenc Rados, Rita Wagner and Kirill Gerstein at IMS Prussia Cove.

I’ve also found inspiration and insight from many of my other varied musical experiences, for example singing in choirs as a choral scholar at Cambridge and performing on the harpsichord.

You recently released a new album Path to the Moon, your second recording with cellist Laura van der Heijden as a duo.  The album features an eclectic selection of lunar-inspired repertoire, could you tell us about the inspiration behind the work please? 

Selecting the repertoire for our album Path to the Moon, we wanted to explore a number of possibilities for binding together a programme. To place different works alongside one another is a wonderful way of bringing out new and unusual qualities in each piece. During the brainstorming phase we came across William T. Horton’s fantastic image The Path to the Moon. This immediately inspired a flurry of ideas, including works on the subjects of both night and the moon, as well as pieces which invoke the exploratory nature of humankind’s voyage to the moon.

This album investigates two main themes: works devoted to the moon’s gently alluring, enigmatic, and romantic character, and works evoking humankind’s fervent striving for new heights. Humans throughout history and from all cultures have been drawn to and taken inspiration from the moon and we have tried to reflect this in our eclectic choice of song repertoire: from Toru Takemitsu to Nina Simone and from Lili Boulanger to Florence Price.

If you could take just one piece of music with you to a desert island, what would you take and why?

Strauss’s Four Last Songs has everything!

If I was also allowed a recording, it would have to be Jesse Norman’s recording with Kurt Masur and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.

 Some quick-fire questions:
  • Tea or coffee?   COFFEE
  • Beer or wine?   WINE
  • Sweet or savoury?   SAVOURY
  • Big night out or quiet night in?   QUIET NIGHT IN
  • Book or eBook?   BOOK
  • Giving presents or receiving presents?   BOTH!
If you could travel back in time, what period would you go to? 

1920s Paris would be fascinating!