'So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be'. (Tennyson)
Music to 'in trance' you
Rich Batsford plays Ayers House at Fringe 2014
Pianist Rich Batsford, performing at Ayers House on four Thursdays during Fringe 2014, understands the power of music to relax and transport the listener so well that he almost hypnotises himself through his playing.
After his first original piece, as constant and soothing as water moving down a river, Batsford asks us to hold our applause until the end of each 15 minute bracket of three tunes that follow. Apart from three young girls all dressed in white who squirm restlessly in their seats, the mixed age audience enjoys the opportunity to sit back and let the music flow over us.
The first and last brackets feature Batsford's own compositions. The middle section contains a short improvisation on an electronic keyboard which he records for the audience to download, and a bracket of pieces by Italian classical, soundtrack and mixed genre composer, Ludovico Einaudi, who recently headlined at the Adelaide Festival.
Rich Batsford in improvisation mode
For me, the Einaudi pieces offered what Batsford's first pieces lacked: a sense of melody, rhythmic variation and light and shade to engage my brain as well as my senses as a listener. In contrast, the first original bracket seemed entirely regular in tempo, volume and musical themes with nothing to surprise or disrupt the meditative mood they created. They were a step up on elevator music, with some lovely classical chord progressions introduced opportunely. However they perfectly captured the elements required to achieve a state of calm relaxation.
The second original bracket introduced some richer piano instrumentation and welcome discordances. The encore was indiscernible from some of the early pieces, but the audience did not care. My guest said she'd been 'taken away to another place' and that is a great achievement for a performer.
The concerts take place in the splendid surrounds of the State Dining Room at Ayers House. The elderly gentlemen whose portraits adorned the walls certainly seemed to approve of the evening's entertainment. The National Trust volunteers who made the concert possible were also glowing from the pleasure of hearing the 140 year old grand piano played so well, in a program that matched the venue to perfection.
With six metre high turquoise walls, the deepest of cornices and Australia's most significant hand painted ceiling to admire in the Dining Room, I wished I was listening from a yoga mat instead of a small wooden chair. There's a risk I'd have fallen asleep. However I know from experience that the sleep that comes with a live music performance, like the sleep that comes with yoga meditation, is deeply soothing and highly rejuvenating.
A visual feast to accompany the music
This experience is all about the music. It is a perfect antidote to the hype and bravado of much of Fringe. Just one man at a piano, creating an atmosphere of calm and contemplation for his own pleasure, as well as for ours. The verdict: well worth supporting.
For ticketing details click here.
Sample Rich's music here