Exciting developments behind the scenes in our April news & piano technician Marianne Bailey shares why RVIPW is so important to her


This month we have been getting ready for our up and coming launch event – a lot of planning behind the scenes has been going on. We have new style brochures for this, our 30th anniversary year which we’ve been busy preparing for printing – we hope you like them! Come and pick up your copy at Martin Roscoe’s launch concert at Westholme School on May 3rd when you can learn all about the exciting concerts and new events we have in store for the main summer festival, 19th – 22nd July.

In addition to the wonderful music you will be able to hear on May 3rd, we are very excited to announce that you will be able to meet representatives from The Mill Outside, who will be providing the main summer festival with food and refreshments in the dining room at Westholme school! It’s the first time since we’ve been at this venue that we are able to offer onsite catering, and alcoholic and soft drinks will also be available. Not only will this really exciting development enhance your  concert-going experience , but also all profits from food and drink purchases will go directly to St Catherine’s Hospice. The Mill Outside will be at the launch concert to tell you all about the sumptuous menus they have planned for you, and will even be able to take your orders too.

We will also have members from Blackburn Camera Club present.  We’ve offered members the opportunity of photographing our launch concert as one of their Club activities and hopefully we will host a future exhibition at RVIPW.

You’ll also be able to find out how to book a session to Play Our Piano – you can have the wonderful Yamaha CFX concert grand piano and our stage all to yourself for 15 minutes, an experience not to be missed.  Sessions must be booked and paid for in advance.

So – don’t miss our launch event on May 3rd; be amongst the first to find out what a great programme we have in store for you this summer!

Interview with our Piano Technician, Marianne Bailey

How long have you been involved with RVIPW?

I began providing tuning and technical support for the event in 2004, so it will be 13 years this summer.

What duties do you perform?

I’m responsible for the condition of the piano throughout the event. This extends beyond the tuning to include such things as working closely with Yamaha UK who generously provide the CFX piano for the festival, and with each artist to ensure that the regulation and voicing fits their requirements for the particular repertoire they will perform and much else besides – the piano must be prepared in optimum condition both aurally and mechanically.

Regulars may remember back in 2012 when Peter Donohoe and Martin Roscoe were playing a two piano recital – a soft pedal squeak developed during the first half on the piano Peter was playing (Westholme school’s own Yamaha S6), necessitating a hasty repair during the interval. There was much interest from audience members returning to their seats for the second half as the piano was, literally, in bits.  I think I had a round of applause for that one as I put it all back together just in the nick of time…

In addition to the care of the piano throughout, I am also closely involved with organising the event, attending meetings and assisting with publicity and marketing as well, even stewarding during lulls in my work on the piano.  I do the majority of the Facebook and Twitter updates, and will be compiling some of these regular blog posts too. I’m absolutely passionate about attending and facilitating concerts, which I do a lot of in my professional capacity and it’s great to expand my skills and gain insight into a whole new area behind the scenes of this organisation.

Since 2014 I have even contributed on stage… Not as a performer, but by participating in pre-concert talks about my work as a Piano Technician. The anecdotes are seemingly endless – another is planned for this summer.

What does the event mean to you?

The opportunities for concert work are limited in this geographical area so when I was offered the chance to work at RVIPW all those years ago I jumped at it. Technical support for concerts is not something that all piano technicians relish but for me it is an area that I find incredibly rewarding. From those early days many things have developed – it was the beginning of a long-standing working relationship with Yamaha who have provided further Ongoing Professional Development and opportunities to work with them nationally. More recently my experience with RVIPW opened the door to my current role as Head piano technician at the RNCM, where the list of visiting performers reads not only like a “who’s who” in the Piano world but also a history of RVIPW performers. So I have a strong affinity with RVIPW, and have come to know many of the musicians and audience as friends.

What are your hopes for the future of RVIPW?

St Catherine’s Hospice having the opportunity to fundraise throughout our event via their outside catering branch The Mill Outside will give tangible benefits to our audience as well as the recipients of Hospice care. I hope this will prove popular and grow into a long-standing association.  And I’m particularly excited about the “Play Our Piano” sessions, which will for a very small fee enable amateur pianists, teachers, piano groups, exam candidates etc. the opportunity of a lifetime.  Involving local musicians in our festival in this way, and introducing concert-going to the next generation of young music lovers is vital and we have several other ideas in development to encourage that.  The future looks very bright indeed!