“Is this the most powerful man in classical music? In an all but invisible way, Gerhartz is probably the single most important figure in the entire piano world, at least to pianists and to concert halls.”
Our Lifting the Lid event on Tuesday 24 February is a ‘must see’ event for anyone with an interest in music. Ulrich Gerhartz has enjoyed a close involvement with St George’s for many years, primarily as the person charged with keeping our two concert grand pianos in peak condition. Last year I met with him on rather different ground: the Steinway factory in Hamburg to be more precise, where I’d travelled with pianist Paul Lewis to find a new concert grand piano for St George’s. I took many photographs during the visit and these were shown at an event last year, with Ulrich providing the accompanying descriptions and talking at greater length about the genesis of our new piano. During the Q&A session it became apparent that Ulrich is a fascinating artist in his own right, someone who has accumulated a wealth of fascinating facts and anecdotes during his career and who was cut off all too prematurely when I called the event to a close after an hour. I resolved to invite him back at the earliest opportunity and that just happens to be in a few weeks’ time, on 24 February.
We chose the date not only on the basis of our hall’s availability but on account of its proximity to Paul Lewis’s eagerly awaited solo Beethoven piano recital later that week. Paul was able to experience for the first time in situ the piano that he had helped choose in Hamburg when he arrived with friends in December but this will be altogether different as he will be playing the last three Beethoven Piano Sonatas. And this brings me to the real reason for writing to encourage you to join us on the 24th. We tend to think of a high profile piano recital as beginning with the arrival of the artist at the venue, the rehearsal and their stepping onto a hushed stage at 7.30pm. But this omits a vital step in the process: the preparation of the instrument itself, refined through the conversation that occurs between artist and piano technician. This is a relationship of trust, mutual respect and deep understanding, often nurtured over years, decades even. It is the nature of these conversations and the transformational ‘alchemy’ on which Ulrich will ‘lift the lid’ – and in doing so, he will offer insights that will quite possibly transform how you listen to Paul Lewis’s concert later in the week, and to future recitals too. I urge you to book your seat now.
Suzanne Rolt, Director
Ulrich Gerhartz: Lifting The Lid
Tuesday 24 February, 6.30pm
Tickets £8 (*plus fees)
*£1 administration fee charged per transaction plus £1 card transaction fee & 70p postage where applicable