Leon McCawley reminisces about his last visit to RVIPW in the early 90s and how intimate venues such as ours help him to communicate with the audience

Can you give us a flavour of your experience of coming to play for us at RVIPW last time?

It was quite a few years ago back in the 90s not long after my success in the 1993 Leeds Piano Competition so I’m delighted to be back at RVIPW again. That time the recital was at Stonyhurst College- I wonder if any audience members from current seasons attended that? I think I am right in saying that my programme then featured the Barber Sonata.

What are you looking forward to about coming back to play for us again? (more…)

“There is an extraordinary dynamic between the acting and the music – they feed off each other…I hope everybody is both uplifted by the music and emotionally drained by the story” – actor Tim McInnerny’s profound insights into Lucy Parham’s work; an extra treat at the end of her fascinating Q&A

This will be your first visit to play for us – what are you most looking forward to?

It will be my first visit. I’m really looking forward to it as the Festival has a wonderful reputation. And of course, Martin is a fabulous pianist and Director, so it’s always a privilege to take part in such a series of concerts.


Audience Member, Anne Stott, shares her impressions of RVIPW and why she decided to make a 180 mile round trip to visit us!

How long have you been coming to RVIPW?
This is my second season and I have attended two recitals; the first was Peter Donohoe giving the closing recital in 2016 and the second Martin Roscoe giving this year’s launch recital.
How did you first hear about us?
Probably via Facebook.
Do you have far to travel?  
Yes, I live near Carlisle and Blackburn is about a 180 mile round trip.


Richard Uttley on the differences between playing in  small venues like ours and big Chinese halls seating 1000s

How important is it to you to be invited to play at festivals like RVIPW?

Extremely important. I love practising, but without concerts it would be just a hobby!

How important are festivals like RVIPW in the cultural life of the UK?

I think we’re really lucky in the UK to have such a thriving scene of festivals like RVIPW and local music clubs. They’re often run by musicians, out of a passion to build and connect with a local audience, and I think the people who go sense and appreciate this. In terms of the concerts themselves, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t experience world-class music-making outside of the major cities – often the performers will be repeating programmes they’re playing in big halls anyway, and this way you get to experience it more up close and personal.

How do you go about selecting repertoire to play at events like RVIPW?


A Q&A from Anthony Hewitt, whose own festival in South Cumbria, Ulverston Music Festival, starts on 7th June

How important is it to you to be invited to play at festivals like RVIPW?

It’s fundamentally important and is my ‘raison d’être’! They provide a vital platform to express myself and communicate in public, and without such festivals life would be barren and I’d suffocate; a tree permanently without leaves, a fish always out of water!

How important are festivals like RVIPW in the cultural life of the UK? (more…)

Alessandro played an evening recital for us in 2014, and tells us here that RVIPW “has an international reputation and relevance”  

How did it feel, to be asked to play at RVIPW?
Any experience or visit to a festival which is especially focused on piano would always be artistically rewarding, first of all for the virtuous connections and comparisons that are established among the artists in terms of programs, experiences and nationalities… and also because it’s always “healthy” for a pianist to know that in front of the stage on which you will play there’s a strong expectation from the audience, who are more and more deeply acquainted and enthusiastically involved in the pieces they are listening to.

How important are festivals like RVIPW to the cultural life of the UK?
Festivals like RVIPW are indeed very important not only in the cultural life of the UK but more generally also in the music world: most of them (and this is the case here) have an international reputation and relevance, they have become the kinds of events that people of this cultural world expect in a very special way: it is like a barometer of the pianistic situation of the moment, and perhaps, a privileged instrument to circulate musical ideas and tendencies; in a certain way they contribute to add a brick to the path of the story of interpretation (more…)

Yundu Wang played for us last summer, in one of our lunchtime concerts. She says – “a good concert programme is like a well-balanced meal”

How important is it to you to be invited to play at festivals like RVIPW?

 Festivals like RVIPW are wonderful opportunities for young musicians; we gain performance experience as well as the chance to interact with supportive communities centred around enjoying music. 

 How important are festivals like RVIPW in the cultural life of the UK?

Extremely important–they provide more opportunities for exposure to live performances and help sustain appreciation for classical music within the culture. 

 How do you go about selecting repertoire to play at events like RVIPW? (more…)

Alexandra Dariescu – on how RVIPW lets people into her world and “feels like a celebration”

I simply love performing at RVIPW and every time I come back is a very special occasion.

Festivals like the RVIPW are of huge importance for the UK life because they bring people together and give locals the opportunity to hear and meet international performers. New friendships are formed, which benefit both the performers and the community. It feels like a celebration because so many people are involved in different roles in order to bring a year’s worth of planning (and practicing!) to life.

I spend a huge amount of time and energy selecting my programme for RVIPW, as for any recital. I try to have a storyline in my programming and always include some popular pieces as well as something new, that the audience might have not heard before. It’s about opening new doors for the people attending my concert and letting them into my world. (more…)

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. (more…)

Young pianist Erdem Misirlioglu, RVIPW 2014, shares his enthusiasm for our intimate venue and our kind, appreciative audience

How important is it to you to be invited to play at festivals like RVIPW?

For a young musician like myself, it is hugely important to gain experience in front of a public. Even with all of the practice in the world, some aspects of a piece only reveal themselves in performance.


How important are festivals like RVIPW in the cultural life of the UK?

Very important – it means there is access to high quality music making in all corners of the UK, which is not necessarily the case abroad.

How do you go about selecting repertoire to play at events like RVIPW? (more…)

A frequent artist at RVIPW, Noriko Ogawa explains that festivals like ours are a perfect place to explore both ways in which musicians communicate; verbally and through music

Do you remember your first experience of RVIPW?

Yes, I do.  It was in Blackburn at that time.  I was told ‘Martin Roscoe’ organised the festival.  I was not then familiar with the idea that ‘a famous pianist’ would ‘organize’ a whole festival, so, the festival had a big impact on me.    Martin came to hear me which was a huge surprise, too.   We went to a pub afterwards where lots of Martin’s friends gave him immediate feedback of the festival and threw ideas in his direction.   I just watched them in amazement.   Another occasion, Martin drove me back to the station.  We had a chat about Alicia de Larrocha in the car.  I still remember the colour of the shirt he was wearing then.   I couldn’t believe ‘The Martin Roscoe’ was driving me in the car and how friendly and normal he was.

You play in many different countries at disparate venues these days, from vast international concert halls with audiences in their 1,000s to smaller, intimate theatres like ours. Can you tell us a bit about how these experiences vary?

I personally prefer intimate venues with individual audience to huge concert halls in a metropolis because I can feel how the theme of the festival or series came about more closely.   I can also meet people who set up concerts directly which I so enjoy.  I feel relaxed speaking to the audience from the piano at RVIPW in particular as I can feel very close to them.  The audience at RVIPW are receptive to us performers which makes it so much easier.

How important are festivals like RVIPW to the cultural life of the UK? (more…)

Peter Donohoe – RVIPW President

You’ve played for us many times during our 30 year history, in several different venues as RVIPW has evolved.

Can you tell us how you first became involved with the festival?

A direct connection with Blackburn was formed when Martin Roscoe and I formed a two piano partnership whilst we were students in Manchester. That was in 1974 and it is still going strong, and only hampered by the immense cost to venues of hiring Two Pianos. Martin and I became very close friends, which extended way beyond two piano rehearsals, and included much involvement with the Blackburn music scene, which was very active at that time. I was regularly timpanist with the local orchestra (Blackburn Sinfonia), playing in that role sometimes when Martin was soloist…. and also as soloist myself. When what was then known as the Blackburn Piano Week, I was also naturally involved with that. It later evolved into the Ribble Valley Piano Week, and the relationship continued.

You’ve played solo recitals and duo recitals for us with your old friend and colleague, Martin Roscoe. Is there a particular concert which stands out from the others as being a favourite?


News Round-up and RVIPW from an Audience Member’s Perspective

Latest RVIPW News

Look out for the Flyers for our May 3rd LAUNCH CONCERT, a solo recital by Martin Roscoe, (details also available elsewhere on this website). We are already distributing them around the area and very stylish they are too, in Red and Gold, in celebration of our 30th anniversary.

We have recently been busy as a committee, as everything needs to be in place for the main festival, all of which will be announced on 3rd May at the Launch event. So the last couple of weeks has been the time to finalise all the plans and arrangements. We had a highly successful planning meeting the other week, with lots of exciting developments to explore. Most of these are in development, but here are some news items we can release – watch this space though, more coming!


Reflections on RVIPW by Martin Sturfält (2003, 2005, 2012)

Martin played two lunchtime concerts for us, in 2003 and 2005 when he was a student, returning in 2012 for a fantastic evening recital. We asked him for his impressions of RVIPW –

Do you enjoy playing at festivals like RVIPW, and how does it feel to be asked?

Absolutely, I love the idea of festivals generally. I think they represent a great opportunity for audiences to experience a variety of musical expression in a concentrated time-period and the same goes for performers. And it is always good to be asked to play a concert – it has to mean that someone out there thinks what you do is relevant and interesting!

What did you think of the welcome you received? (more…)

Interview with pianist Clare Hammond – RVIPW 2012

Since she played for us in 2012, Clare appeared as the young pianist in Alan Bennett’s film The Lady In The Van, and has also appeared with him in word and music productions on the same theme.  www.clarehammond.com/ladyinthevan

Here is what she says about her visit to play for us in the Ribble Valley International Piano Week!

Do you enjoy playing at festivals like RVIPW, and how does it feel to be asked?

I love playing at festivals because you have the chance to engage with an audience who are really committed. People often go to great lengths to attend several concerts over the course of a festival and you can feel that enthusiasm when you perform for them. It’s always exciting to be asked to play for a new festival.

What did you think of the welcome you received? (more…)

Reflections on Piano Week by Kathryn Stott, a regular performer over the years

Kathryn Stott has been a regular performer over the years at RVIPW, both as soloist and also with Martin Roscoe.  Here she shares some of her memories and impressions of the festival.

Do you remember your first experience of RVIPW?

I don’t have a good memory I’m afraid so I can’t tell you what year it was, what I played and so on. However, I do remember that it was in Blackburn College and that the list of international pianists coming to perform there was impressive.

You play in many different countries at disparate venues these days, from vast International Concert halls with audiences in their 1,000’s to smaller, intimate theatres like ours. Can you tell us a bit about how these experiences vary?

I think there are many different aspects to consider with each venue, but what I hope to create, whatever the size of hall, is the feeling that the concert is an experience between performer and audience – one needs the other, how ever far away they may be sitting. The beauty about the Theatre in Westholme School which you use for RVIPW, is that one can easily make eye contact with the audience and that’s something I personally enjoy.

How important are festivals like RVIPW to the cultural life of the UK? (more…)

Interview with Young Pianist Alexander Panfilov (RVIPW 2014)

Can you tell us what it means for young musicians like you to be invited to play at festivals like RVIPW?

It is very flattering! And the same time it is quite challenging. One of the aspects is when just starting as a young musician, you don’t have enough planning experience, so thinking of the repertoire is extremely important. And when you have a full-length solo recital sometimes it’s really difficult to shape it well. I was lucky however to have a suggestion from Martin Roscoe, artistic director of RVIPW, to play the complete Rachmaninov Etudes-Tableux op.39 (that he heard me play before), and from me, added the rest of the programme.

Are events like this important for young musicians like you to gain performing experience?

I can’t even describe how important it is – I think performance practice is something that is absolutely crucial for an establishing young musician – and it is so helpful when you do get those invitations! (more…)

January Round-up and Interviews with our Artistic Director Martin Roscoe and Chairman Ian Longworth

January Round-up

January is a busy month behind the scenes, and 2017 began with a vibrant and exciting planning meeting.  We are very pleased to have a new Administrator, Rebecca Weaver, and several new trustees too, so there was a lot of ground to cover, and lots to organise, press releases to finalise for both the launch concert on 3rd May and for the main festival, and publicity ideas to establish, this regular series of newsletters and updates being one of them.

In celebration of our 30th anniversary, here is the first in our series of reflections on the festival and to start us off we will be hearing from our Artistic Director, Martin Roscoe and our Chairman Ian Longworth.

Martin Roscoe

Martin Roscoe, Artistic Director

The first RVIPW was held 30 years ago this summer, How did you get involved? Were you there at the very first festival?

Joan Hall ( my first wife….) set up the first festival at Blackburn College. I played a recital in that, including in the programme one of my first performances of Schubert’s final Sonata ( D.960 in B flat ). I also attended John Lill’s recital on the final night.

How important do you think small intimate music events such as this are, to you as Artistic Director, for musicians and for our audiences?

Hugely important . You just can’t beat a live performance and I think our audience recognises this.

You have played many times for us over the years. Is there a particular concert which stands out from the others as being a favourite?

A difficult question as I’ve played well over fifty . I’ve particularly enjoyed some of the two piano recitals I’ve played, most often with Peter Donohoe, our President, but also those with Kathy Stott, Noriko Ogawa , Anthony Hewitt and Ashley Wass. With Ashley I played the Liszt transcription of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which received a standing ovation…

You must have many memories spanning back over the last 30 years – can you tell us some of your personal highlights?


An Introduction to our New RVIPW 30th Anniversary Blog

We have two special celebrations approaching in 2017 – RVIPW will be 30 years old, and our Artistic Director Martin Roscoe will have his 65th birthday!

In the run-up to next summer’s festival, we will explore the hard work done behind the scenes throughout the year in preparation – we’re planning a series of interviews with various key players and reports on progress from our team of volunteers and helpers. Plus we will have updates about exciting new events for this summer and the future.

Festivals like ours are worth celebrating and play an important role, not just in providing fantastic concerts by some of the world’s leading performers in provincial and intimate venues, but also in helping to develop the careers of young performers at the start of their careers. We’ll be finding out what some of these young players thought of their experience of coming to this beautiful part of the world to play for our audiences, and asking some rather more seasoned performers from over the last 30 years for their feedback too.

Last but not least, we will be asking for reactions from some of our audience members new and old, people who have supported our festival over many years, some who travel from far afield to join us each summer and without whom we wouldn’t have a festival!

We will publish these behind-the-scenes insights in a regular blog here on our website and on social media through the coming months – festival dates 19-22nd July 2017