Introducing: Adam Swayne

3 - AdamPianist Adam Swayne has been on the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble since our very first concerts at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2009.  In addition to his busy performing schedule, Adam teaches piano at the Junior Royal Academy of Music and is Senior Lecturer and Head of Chamber Music at the University of Chichester. Adam will be performing in a number of Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our June Portfolio Concert, presented in conjunction with Sound and Music. Get to know Adam a bit better, in his answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at a piano?

Probably playing a wrong note at your (Aaron’s) wedding. It was only one note out of several hundred, but it seemed somehow to resonate louder than a thermonuclear explosion. And it found its way onto the official wedding video too. Other than that, probably having to impersonate two female goddesses in Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Speak to Me’.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Playing/ vocalising Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Speak to Me’ again on January 30th. I suppose it’s pretty kinky to be humiliated. After all, if I didn’t enjoy it then I wouldn’t have agreed to let Aaron release that ridiculous picture.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?

I enjoyed hearing the sharply divisive audience reaction when we performed Michael Daugherty’s Le Tombeau de Liberace in one of our first concerts at Guildhall. I also enjoyed playing Workers’ Union in the rain in Dalston and having the police turn up halfway through.

Introducing: Claudia Maria Racovicean

2 - DiaPianist Claudia Maria Racovicean has been on the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble since our very first concerts at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2009. Claudia is currently preparing to record her first album, which will include Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations, which she started learning this summer while living at Copland House.  Claudia will be performing in half-a-dozen Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, none less than our series of concerts with Breathe AHR, which brings contemporary music into hospitals with live visual artists. Get to know Claudia a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at a piano?

I was in my final year of my Masters at the Royal Academy of Music – and before the concerto exams every student gets about 20 minutes on their fantastic Steinway in the Duke’s Hall (where the exams eventually take place).  I was the very first pianist to practice on the day, and I ran through my concerto (Saint-Saëns Second Piano Concerto) and on as I played the final fortissimo chord, a string on the piano snapped!  It was this incredible, thunderous sound and my accompanist and I had no idea what had happened.  When we saw a string had broken we quickly gathered our things a slipped out to let the piano technician know.  I wondered if the rest of the pianists that day thought someone was trying to sabotage them…!

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

I’m really looking forward to recording my first full-length album.  It’s going to include some works I’ve been playing for many years, such as the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, but I’m placing those pieces alongside much lesser known (but no less beautiful) works such as Matthias Pintscher’s On A Clear Day.  With Riot Ensemble, I just look forward to every concert because there’s always some sort of crazy excitement happening on the day, and it’s just great to be making music with such close friends in concert after concert.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?

You know, I really love the concerts we do with Breathe Arts Health Research.  It’s great to perform this – often very serious and high-minded – music in a venue where it has a very real affect and impact on people’s lives.  The music always speaks really well in these concerts because of the informality of the event – and I also really like the experience of sitting down to play something, and then finding this artist has created this wonderful painting that you can look at and enjoy long after the music has finished.

Introducing: Celeste Cronje

1 - CelesteSoprano Celeste Cronje has been on the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble since our official launch in 2012. In addition to being a soprano up for absolutely anything voice-related, she founded and runs the foreSOUND School of Music in North London, where we will be hosting the 2015 ‘Riot Young Composer of the Year’ project in 2015.  She’s going to be singing a huge array of repertoire with us in 2015, not least, Jose Manuel Serrano’s Velado in our October Concert: My Life on the Plains. Get to know Celeste a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you while you were singing?

Burping mid-note…okay, it was when I was 17 but it was hilarious and I’ll never forget it! I was ‘test running’ my diploma repertoire at a local charity concert and felt a little ‘rumble’ in my tummy as I approached the ‘F#’ in O del mio dolce ardor….I managed to hold on to about a quaver worth of the pitch before the naughty little belch made its way north! The audience were stunned and I had to make a split second choice. Do I carry on or do I stop and apologise? I carried right on. Apparently I only missed about an extra quaver worth of time! *sing-burp super loudly-sing* A lady came to me afterwards and asked if I was feeling okay. Very funny.

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What are you looking forward to in 2015?

No longer having to teach on Saturday mornings, learning how to make muffins that aren’t as arid and dry as the Sahara, getting my amazing students excited about writing music for our Young Composer Award, and last but not least SINGING all the epic music I get to sing with Riot Ensemble!

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?

I can’t give just one!  Here are my top three (so far…)
1) Realising that my lips are too fat to make flutelike whistle harmonics and/or having to bellow at a snare drum because my microphone broke! (Jenna Lyle!)

2) Hitting any sweatshop we could find in Brighton to ask for anything ‘grim looking’ so that we could decorate the piano at our NMB Halloween event in 2013 (Watch out, Brighton, we’re coming back for Halloween this year!).
3) Burning a thousand candles in one of our earlier concerts, which took place in London’s craziest venue, run by London’s craziest woman.  It took a while to get the place into concert shape, but it ended up being a hilarious and really fun night!