Russian ice and Spanish fire in Buxton concert

George Todica gives a piano recital at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton, on February 9.

A pianist tipped for stardom will mix musical ice and fire when he performs at Buxton’s Pavilion Arts Centre on February 9.

Romanian George Todica, who has made the UK his base after winning a place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will demonstrate the hidden influences shared by the Russian composer Rachmaninov and Enrique Granados of Spain in a concert which will launch the Friends of Buxton International Festival’s 2018 season of events.

“I found a lot of similarities in how they wrote,” said George, whose first piano lessons came from his elder brothers at the age of three. “It was only when I was practising their work one after the other that I thought: this is fascinating.”

George won a scholarship to the Stewart’s Melville College in Edinburgh and then went to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Fellow alumni include film composer Patrick Doyle who wrote for the Harry Potter series and legendary bass player the late Jack Bruce of the world’s first supergroup, Cream.

The concert will feature six preludes by Rachmaninov and three movements from Goyescas by Granados with Chopin as a finale.

“They are still varied enough so that they are not repetitive – one is so strongly Russian and the other so strongly Spanish,” he said. One piece is a fandango: “You don’t get more Spanish than that!”

George’s love of music passed a tough test when he was six: should his first keyboard be a piano or a computer?

“At about the age of six my brothers got their first basic computers and to test my love of piano my father offered me the choice of a computer or continued piano lessons – and I chose piano,” said George, who began winning piano competitions in Romania at the age of seven.

“Winning the scholarship to Edinburgh absolutely changed my life. If I hadn’t got that I wouldn’t have thought to apply to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland,” he said.

“I have been living in Scotland the past four years and I never had to worry about working in a bar or shop thanks to this, so that I could focus on learning piano every single moment, seven days per week.”

The Friends of the Festival have organised a range of events which are all open to the public, and include a trip to the iconic art deco Stockport Plaza cinema and a concert in stately Haddon Hall.

George is one of just four artists selected in 2017 to join the Tillettt Trust’s Young Artists Platform scheme. Only 23 at the time of his audition, he impressed the panel of senior figures from the classical music world his programme which included works by Chopin and Enescu.

“With a history of competition wins behind him, George has been consolidating his studies at the RCS in Glasgow where he is currently in the final year of his masters degree, supported by a bursary from The Tillett Trust,” said a spokeswoman.

“Under the auspices of the trust, he will be playing a series of solo recital at UK venues, culminating in his appearance at Wigmore Hall as part of the Monday Platform series in October 2018.”

Tickets cost £10 for George’s concert in Buxton on February 9.

For more details, and to find out how the Friends support the festival, go to www.buxtonfestival.co.uk/friends

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