Informal classical sessions over tea and cakes open music's doors for Cordelia
ONE of Britain's best young pianists, Cordelia Williams has also become something of a classical music evangelist.
Her Café Muse nights at pubs and bars around London have become popular with younger crowds who enjoy classical music in smaller, more casual settings. To that end, she also came to Nottingham in 2010 to help kick off the Royal Concert Hall's Sunday morning series, an informal series of recitals and music chat over tea and cakes.
Now Cordelia's coming back – and she's bringing the whole Café Muse concept with her.
She's looking forward to being back in Nottingham.
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"It's a wonderful hall and also the piano is really beautiful," she said. "That always makes a difference."
For this show – which features works by Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Messiaen, Debussy, Schumann and Prokofiev – Cordelia has worked with Royal Concert Hall and Theatre Royal music programme manager Neil Bennison.
"Neil and I were both keen to have a nice, varied programme," she said. "The idea is to attract people who maybe haven't been to a concert many times before. It's kind of a taster of many different kinds of music.
"I also wanted to have a variety of things to talk about. I tried to pick every piece so that there's something special to talk about with that piece."
She believes that this helps ease people into an art form they may not at first feel comfortable with.
"I felt like for people my age – my friends, my cousins – who haven't really been trained in music. They're interested in art and theatre and other things, but concerts seemed somehow inaccessible, far away.
"I don't think music should be inaccessible at all. It should be the most accessible thing. It's not limited by language. It's just about the feelings of the musician and the composer.
"But somehow it's got confused a little bit so that people think it's not relevant to them."
Cordelia doesn't go into technical points of musicology. She's talking about feelings.
"I am always trying to, I suppose, share the music as best as I can," she says.
She doesn't view her performances as a thing apart from an evening with an orchestra.
"I don't really see Café Muse is that different from more normal concerts apart from the venue. The venue is the important thing in a way because it's what lets people in."
It's a different way of working for a concert pianist. Rather than sitting in a dressing room until it's time to go on, Cordelia chats with the people who will listen to her. She's not segregated from her audience – it's more of a conversation.
A conversation, Cordelia notes, with some excellent-looking tapas.
Café Muse with Cordelia Williams is on Monday at 7:30pm in the Theatre Royal dress circle bar. Tickets are £10. A tapas menu will also be served. Book on trch.co.uk, 0115 989 5555 or in person at the Theatre Royal box office. The ticket also includes a glass of house wine, a pint of beer or lager or a soft drink.