Sunday, 27 May 2012



“I learnt piano as a child, did some of the grades at school and then I had a very long period of not developing my piano playing at all.  I am a Consultant Anaesthetist with special interest in Intensive Care Medicine; the way we work is a week at a time on the Intensive Care Unit, we organise it that way so there is continuity for the more difficult patients.   So as a consultant I am responsible for a large intensive care unit of around 20 beds and I will be on duty for a week.   We have a ten-hour day and we share on call out of hours.  It’s a very intensive period of work, you get involved with the patients and the work is quite high pressure but believe it or not, it is enjoyable!  I share the rota with eight other colleagues so then I’ll have a period when I’m not on Intensive Care and work in a more routine area of anaesthetics.  Training in medicine is very involved, it’s an immersive activity and one tends to give up a lot of activities and life interests in order to get through the training.  Once you qualify to become a Consultant you have a team of doctors working for you and suddenly you have a bit more time on your hands and life begins again as it were.  And so, you can re-discover certain things, and get that private time on your own away from the job.  I try to practice piano most days, I revisited piano learning soon after I became a consultant.   It was a few years ago and I had decided I wanted to develop my piano playing in my spare time and I started having lessons with Mikael Pettersson to try and undo the bad habits I had acquired in the intervening years.  Even though he teaches us as individuals, he is really good at bringing us together in a group for master classes and concerts.  The piano has the tendency to be a very isolated instrument and it adds a level of challenge when you know you are going to be playing in front of your peers, rather than in your own back room, that has been very good for my development.  We play pieces by the same composer; it’s good to hear how other people are getting on with the same sort of pieces.    The current project is Scriabin, and a while before that we learnt the Debussy Preludes for which I performed the Sunken Cathedral.  It’s been difficult to learn Scriabin but he’s growing on me.  Scriabin is interesting because there’s a very clear transition in his work which I think reflects the transition from Romanticism to Modernism that was going on at the time.  His transition was quite stark and quite overt, and some of his later pieces are quite challenging.  There are a lot of parallels between Scriabin and Debussy as he also underwent a similar transition; his later work is also very different.“ (Roger Stedman)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


“We started off in the States, moved around quite a lot from New York and Mexico and Florida ending up in England via Scotland. I remember as one of seven children playing a game in the living room in Glasgow where we had a grand piano and the game was based on the weather; one person would be playing the piano and the rest would be dancing around. It seemed to involve a lot of sustain pedal. The person at the piano would replicate beautiful calm sunny weather by playing delicately at the top of the piano, and then at some moment would go to the bottom of the piano and bang out the lowest notes like thunder and lightning and rain and we’d all scream and hide under the grand piano. It was simple, but endless fun. Another early memory was that my mother used to like us to play the piano first thing in the morning to help get her out bed, it was a happy time, and I’d play whatever it was that I was learning at the time. Now I’m a teacher myself, I teach students from all over the world; Finland, England, Iran, Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Trinidad....I could go on! As they get more advanced, what I’m trying to do is to get them to play jazz with their own twist. For example there’s a very good pianist who’s brilliant at playing traditional Iranian and Azerbaijanian music on the piano, sometimes it’s centuries old, and sometimes it’s pop music from the last thirty years. He’s starting to get a really good feel for jazz, and we’ve been working together on getting him to fuse the two together. He has actually influenced me as a composer. Another example is a Japanese student; she’s working on a collection of Japanese folk songs and that’s really nice because she took a while to understand how jazz works and now she’s really starting to find herself by not trying to sound American but by arranging Japanese folk music. My way of looking at things is to that there’s no point learning the tradition of an art form unless you’re going to bend it your own way. The end game is to create a personal statement, and not to present yourself as someone who is the carrier of a tradition, but as someone who has taken the tradition and made it their own.” (Roland Perrin)

ROLAND PERRIN is a composer, pianist and educator who creates music that combines irresistible world music grooves, jazz improvisation and structures in the European symphonic tradition. His compositions range from solo piano works to full orchestral pieces. The style is wide ranging - the result of being steeped in classical music and jazz and also by having played with many artists from around the world. Roland sees his music as taking some of the best elements from different traditions: it develops and unfolds like a story, it leaves space for spontaneity and it dances. Roland's "Limited Edition" has five members from five countries. He also works as a solo pianist, in duos with singers Rachel Sutton and V, and with the Cuban bass player Rey Crespo. He is Head of Piano Studies at the London Centre of Contemporary Music and operates a thriving private practice as a jazz piano teacher.

Connect with Roland at

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


 “My family all live in Tokyo so fortunately none of them were affected by the tsunami, but it was a huge shock.  Many concert halls were totally destroyed and it’s been very difficult.  The Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, the big orchestra in that region, has been working so hard.  They went to many of the shelters in small groups; I heard they performed more than five hundred charity concerts.  Many musicians lost their jobs and it’s still not good for them there. Here in London my friends and I organised a big concert at the College and it raised a lot of money.  I’m in my fourth year at the Royal College of Music.  I’m not sure I want to limit myself by aiming to be a Concert Pianist; I also want to play in ensembles.  For example I’m working in a horn trio at the moment. It’s a new project and we’re about to have our first concert.  We’re all Asian but from different countries, the other players are from Hong Kong and Korea.  We became close friends so we decided to work together.  Unfortunately, there’s not much repertoire for Horn Trio so our violinist Joo Yeon Sir decided to compose a piece.  I’m really looking forward to that.  We’re also doing the Brahms Horn Trio No.1, probably the most famous piece for horn trio, plus a little known piece by Duvernoy, an eighteenth century composer.  It’s a very short piece.  We’ll also play a duo piece, the Ravel violin sonata. As a soloist I have been learning Beethoven, Chopin and Scriabin recently, soon I’m moving over to Russian composers including Rachmaninov and Prokofiev; I’m currently choosing the other composers.  My plan is to expand myself as a soloist and enter competitions.  While I’m still a student I plan to make the most of any opportunities to play with other performers and get as much experience as I can.” (Natsumi Ikenaga)

Natsumi plays in The Schwartz Horn Trio with Jade Wing-Yi Cheung on horn and Joo Yeon Sir on violin.  Their debut concert is for Markson Pianos May 16 at 7.30pm at Saint Mary Magdalene Church, NW1.  Click here for more details