Break Out Culture With Ed Vaizey by Country and Town House

127. The Joys of the Piano: The Eighth London Piano Festival with Katya Apekisheva and Charles Owen

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Episode notes

Acclaimed pianists, Charles Owen and Moscow-born Katya Apekisheva, started the London Piano Festival at Kings Place in 2016 as a way of bringing together pianists from around the world.  Pianists tend to practice and play in isolation so it can be a lonely profession and this is a much-loved opportunity for them to come together and share their passion for their instrument and its music.

Between 5th and 8th October this year’s festival is celebrating the 150th birth of Rachmaninov and the centenary of the less well-known but hugely significant and ground-breaking Hungarian musician, Gryorgy Ligeti.  

We hear about Rachmaninov’s lasting legacy - Katya and Charles will perform his major two piano works - and Charles and Katya will be joined by dazzling British musicians Danny Hammond and Clare Driver for ‘Ligeti 100: The Devil’s Staircase’. 

Charles and Katya tell us about other performances in store, including jazz with Polish phenomenon Leszek Motżdżer and a portrait of Rachmaninov in exile by Lucy Parham, narrated by Tim McInnerny. The master pianist and extraordinary, original showman from Ukraine, Vadym Kholodenko, will perform work by Liszt, Beetoven, Adès and the Ukrainian composer Silvestrov.

What comes through our conversation is the palpable joy and exuberance that Katya and Charles feel when playing the piano and we have a fascinating conversation about how strong their hands have to be and much more.  For all music lovers this is a festival not be missed.

We also round up what’s happening in the art world – Marina Abramović’s astonishing show at the Royal Academy, cementing her reputation as the greatest and most courageous performance artist alive today, Sarah Lucas’s new show ‘Happy Gas’ at Tate Britain and ‘Celebrating Picasso Today: Infinite Modernism’, a show of new and modern works at London’s Almine Rech Gallery to honour Picasso 50 years after his death.

The London Piano Festival:  Kings Place from 5th to 8th October

This episode is brought to you thanks to our sponsor, Lomi, the compact, countertop ‘smart waste’ appliance that can process food waste into plant food.  Go to to receive a discount of £50 by entering the code breakout at the check-out.