Caro Meets Music Interview Spoken Word Interview

Lucy Parham: Word/Play

By | Published on Thursday 3 December 2015


When I heard about renowned pianist Lucy Parham’s strand of ‘Word/Play’ events, I was really pleased, because I love this sort of thing – genre blending, and involving well known artists performing in ways they are not normally noted for. I put some questions to Lucy, to find out more about the shows, and in particular the upcoming celebrity gala.

CM: Tell us about Word/Play – what’s the idea of the show?
LP: Word/Play is the title of the series, rather than one event. I liked it because we always include words in our concerts. It’s a balance of music and spoken word.

I think Sunday mornings are also a great time for a concert. You can wander off for a leisurely lunch afterwards!

The first concert in this series is 6 Dec, and it features several well-known people who love to play the piano in their spare time. I am keen to promote the idea that playing the piano is for everyone – not just musicians! It’s a great way to relax and de-stress, too

CM: When and how did you come up with the idea for this?
LP: I have always loved the combination of words and music so when Kings Place invited me to present this series it seemed the perfect opportunity.

This is the fourth Celebrity Gala. We have had many high profile guests playing in this concert, including Ed Balls, Jim Naughtie, Edward Fox, Alistair McGowan etc. They are brave too, as it takes a lot of courage to play in front to 500 people!

CM: How do you go about creating the content of each event? Do you choose people who you think will complement each other…?
LP: Yes, I like to bring people together, too. For instance, the pianist and composer Richard Sisson will collaborate with actor Martin Jarvis in the ever-popular ‘Just William’. I felt they’d make a great team. Richard writes all the music and Martin narrates.

It’s proved so popular that this is their third appearance in the series!

CM: The celebrities who come and play with you are famous for something other than music, of course. Do they jump at the chance to be involved in something a bit different?
LP: I hope they have been very happy to take part! I think nerves are always a worry. But they are for professional musicians, too! There’s a great sense of camaraderie backstage. Everyone is very supportive.

CM: Who can we expect to see joining you at this year’s gala performance?
LP: This year we have 14 pianists including actors Edward Fox, Niamh Cusack, Stephen Boxer and Alistair McGowan. Then there’s Channel 4’s Cathy Newman, Anneka Rice, Olympic athlete William Sharman and former Guardian Editor, Alan Rusbridger…

CM: Also, we’ve been promised “festive surprises” – are we allowed any hints as to what they may be…?
LP: I can’t tell you that!

CM: Of the otherWord/Play events coming up in the new year, is there anything you are especially looking forward to?
LP: We have Alan Titchmarsh in ‘The Glory of the Garden’, and Martin Jarvis in ‘Just William’.
John Lill and John Suchet will join forces for ‘A Morning of Beethoven’. The series ends with my new words and music show, ‘Elegie’. This chronicles the life of Rachmaninoff, and his exile from Russia. I’m joined by the wonderful actor, Henry Goodman.

All details are on the Kings Place website. Each concert is an hour long and the coffee is free!

CM: What else do you have coming up?
LP: On 6 Dec, I present ‘Something Understood’ for BBC Radio 4, and in the New Year, a BBC TV documentary called ‘The Joy of Rachmaninoff’.

Plus a full diary of concerts for 2016. That’ll keep me busy!

The Celebrity Gala takes place on 6 Dec. See this page here for more info on that and this link here for more info on future editions of ‘Word/Play’.

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