James Rhodes @stgeorges Bristol
I had a fabulous evening on Friday watching pianist James Rhodes play beautiful music by some of the great composers at StGeorges in Bristol. This is the first time I have been to this venue and it was a real treat, unique and warm, full of friendly people and with a beautiful Steinway grand piano in the concert hall. On a chilly October evening it felt like a golden refuge away from the impending winter. There was a real feeling of anticipation amongst the crowd who it is fair to say were not quite the usual classical music demographic. Though what this eclectic and down to earth bunch certainly were was happy to be there at this sold out concert.
It did feel buzzworthy to be part of such a diverse and relaxed audience who had all bought tickets to hear classical music. James Rhodes has said he would like to help classical music become more accessible to everyone and if the audience on Friday was anything to go by then he is certainly making some progress with this goal.
James Rhodes has really encouraged me to feel more connected to classical music by simply removing some of the mystique that surrounds the genre. In todays world some of the conventions that surround classical music are undoubtedly alienating for younger audiences. Strict rules like what to wear and when to applaud, for example, can feel a little elitist, not to mention confusing, even if that is not the intention. So when James Rhodes takes this music, the pure form of the composers original intention and just plays it from his own place of humble enthusiasm you can’t help but wish him well. It also makes me feel feel inspired to keep my own piano practice up!
At the end of the evening he introduced a short prelude by Chopin and encouraged us all to go away and learn it, even with no previous experience he assured us it was within our grasp. Who am I to argue with that? An inspiring evening with a real ambassador, not just for classical music, but the piano as well. Undoubtedly a man to applaud (when you want to).