Benjamin Powell is an award-winning classical pianist whose
many concerts have taken him from Aldeburgh to Paris via venues as prestigious
as the Bridgewater Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Wigmore Hall. On
Monday, it was the turn of the Musgrave Hall at Moreton Hall. Ben joined us, as
part of the Barbirolli Society’s events, to take a number of masterclasses with
Moreton’s enthusiastic pianists and to literally play a part in the Lunchtime Concert.
In what was undoubtedly one of the most memorable Lunchtime Concerts
in my time at Moreton, Ben treated us to Debussy's L'isle joyeuse. It was
wonderful to hear and watch this fabulous pianist bringing the Musgrave piano
to life; the audience was spellbound by his music.
I was lucky enough to be invited to work one to one with Ben
as part of his masterclass visit. I have been working on Debussy’s Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum. As part of our
session, Ben encouraged me to think about Debussy’s use of pedaling and how it
can be used to ease the stress on the fingers in this incredibly fast and
note-filled piece. He suggested new ways for me to approach the piece and
really made me think about how the attention to detail on just a few bars can
really transform a performance.
With the Oswestry Festival taking place this week, Ben’s
advice and inspiration will help me, and I’m sure all the other pianists he
worked with, as we progress with our instruments, not only through the
competition but through our musical lives.