Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Classical studies that will break the mould

EDWARD CHILVERS has been making a living playing the piano since he left school at 16, working as an accompanist for the Henley Children’s Theatre as well as playing at functions at Phyllis Court and Leander Club

EDWARD CHILVERS has been making a living playing the piano since he left school at 16, working as an accompanist for the Henley Children’s Theatre as well as playing at functions at Phyllis Court and Leander Club. But while the “cocktail music” he plays at weddings and in hotel foyers may bring in the bucks, it’s his own modern classical compositions - what he calls his “serious music” - that consumes his mind.

Now at the age of 32 the musician from Caversham has recorded a CD, Edward Chilvers: 32 Etudes, which will be launched at a party this weekend, and he believes that it stretches the boundaries of accepted rhythmic variations.

“It’s not the first CD I’ve made, but it’s the first one I’m proud of,” he says. “These studies are my serious work that I think about all the time. I’m always lying in bed thinking things through.

“I spent three years training my hands to play all the different permutations of rythmic ratios, and the studies are the consequence of this experimentation.

“I feel like I have contributed something to music, and I would like to hope that other composers might be tempted to work this way.”

At this point his explanations of compositional techniques become a little complicated for anyone who is not an expert in rhythmic variations, but suffice to say that the result is music that is both original and beautiful.

“I hope that someone hearing it who didn’t know anything about music would find it beautiful,” he says.

Chilvers started playing the piano at the age of four - his mother was a music teacher - and by the age of 12 he was already performing. One of his first performances was at a function at Reading Town Hall for the Mayors of Berkshire, playing the background music that he now finds stifling and a little tedious. But he was also playing full-blown classical sonatas by composers such as Liszt, and started teaching at the age of 14.

At 16, two weeks into his A level course at Reading School, he left to pursue his musical career.

He says: “I thought, ‘I don’t have to go to school. What am I doing?’ I didn’t want to be told what to play or how to play it. I was quite clear on what I wanted to do. I read what I wanted to read, and dabbled quite a lot in amths and physics, picking and choosing the things I wanted to learn. I was fortunate that I had quite a good teaching practice.”

Soon after he left home to live with his rock band, Fume, (he was on guitar and lead vocals) and gathered a following on the local scene, playing at venues such as the Fez Club and Bar Oz. But composing his own music has always been the activity that means the most to him. These days he practises for three hours a day on his black Boston Steinway grand at his home in Caversham Park Village as well as continuing his teaching practice.

His influences are wide and varied - from Beethoven, Chopin, Wagner, Bach and Debussy, as well as ambient electronica initiated by such innovative modern composers as Stockhausen.

EDWARD CHILVERS has spindly fingers, wild hair and an incredibly enquiring mind — all the accoutrements needed to be a great pianist.

This 32-year-old from Caversham has been making a living playing the piano since he left school, working as an accompanist for the Henley Children’s Theatre as well as playing at functions at venues such as Phyllis Court and Leander Club. But while the “cocktail music” he plays at weddings and in hotel foyers may bring in the bucks, it’s his own modern classical compositions — what he calls his “serious music” — that consume his mind.

This weekend the Young Steinway Artist launches his latest CD Edward Chilvers: 32 Etudes at a private party. It’s a recording that he believes is totally innovative, in that it stretches the boundaries of accepted rhythmic variations.

“It’s not the first CD I’ve made, but it’s the first one I’m proud of,” he says. “These studies are my serious work that I think about all the time. I’m always lying in bed thinking things through.

“I spent three years training my hands to play all the different permutations of rhythmic ratios, and the studies are the consequence of this experimentation.

“I feel like I have contributed something to music, and I would like to hope that other composers might be tempted to work this way.”

At this point his explanations of compositional techniques become a little complicated for anyone who is not an expert in rhythmic variations, but suffice to say that the result is music that is both original and beautiful. The 12 studies, each in a different key and lasting between one and three minutes, bring to mind the movement of water, sometimes the lapping of waves at sunset and at other times the crashing of an angry ocean. The overriding style is that of impressionist music, along the lines of Debussy or Delius, although there seem also to be hints of Rachmaninov. In fact, Chilvers himself says that his influences are as varied as Beethoven, Bach, Wagner as well as ambient electronica initiated by innovative modern composers such as Stockhausen.

“I hope that someone hearing it who didn’t know anything about music would find it beautiful,” he says.

Chilvers started playing the piano at the age of four — his mother was a music teacher — and by the age of 12 he was already performing. One of his first performances was at a function at Reading Town Hall for the Mayors of Berkshire, playing the background music that he now finds stifling and a little tedious. But he was also playing full-blown classical sonatas by composers such as Liszt, and he started teaching at the age of 14.

At 16, two weeks into his A level course at Reading School, he left to pursue his musical career.

He says: “I thought, ‘I don’t have to go to school. What am I doing?’ I didn’t want to be told what to play or how to play it. I was quite clear on what I wanted to do. I read what I wanted to read, and dabbled quite a lot in maths and physics, picking and choosing the things I wanted to learn. I was fortunate that I had quite a good teaching practice.”

Soon after, he left home to live with his rock band Fume (he was on guitar and lead vocals) and gathered a following on the local scene, playing at venues such as the Fez Club and Bar Oz. But composing his own music has always been the activity that means the most to him. These days he practises for three hours a day on his black Boston Steinway grand at his home in Caversham Park Village as well as continuing his teaching practice.

“If I’m not learning something new every day I feel disappointed,” he says.

Edward Chilvers: 12 Etudes was recorded on a Steinway grand piano at Pangbourne College and is endorsed by the Young Steinway Artist scheme. To buy a copy text him on 07403 263940 or email info@edwardchilvers.co.uk

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death
 

POLL: Have your say