Former BBC Young Musician of the Year prepares concert of ‘hair-raising songs’ for Wimbledon festival

By Tolu Bakre
October 8 2019, 10.45

Martin James Bartlett is performing at Wimbledon Piano Classics presented by Blüthner and Royal College of Music on October 12.

The 23-year-old from Essex first rose to fame after he was crowned winner of the BBC Young Musician 2014, which led to his performance for the Queen’s 90th birthday thanksgiving.

Martin learned how to play the piano from at age seven from his mother while she was teaching others at the Royal College of Music.

He said: ‘As a young kid, I found the mechanics of the piano so versatile and so exciting. I would not have found the inspiration if it wasn’t for her. I came quite naturally to it.”

The pianist will be performing works by Mozart, Gershwin, Dvorak, Ginastera and Liszt, where he will perform Widmung from his debut album Love and Death with Warner Classics, which garnered over two million digital streams.

When asked about the single Widmung Martin describes it as ‘one of the greatest love ballads with a dramatic climax’.

Originally written by romantic composer Robert Schumer, the song was a present for his wife detailing events of their love that will eventually end due to death.

He said: “The title ‘love and death’ really resonated with me. They are both human existing things that will both happen at one point in everybody’s life. The climax at the end makes you feel like you’re flying on top of the world.”

Martin will be performing alongside YouTube sensation and childhood friend George Harliono where he will present pieces by Chopin, Stravinsky and Greig, bringing youthful and fresh interpretations of these masterworks to Wimbledon audiences.

He describes the union as a ‘collaboration of beautiful ideas bouncing off of each other’ and is fortunate to be playing with him even though they attended school together.

Martin said: “Because we are very different people, we have to bring music off the page, poems out of a book and show different things, bring out different musical ideas.

“The music in the concert varies from rock to contempary music; we travelled across the music world, it is like walking through an art gallery, working with George is exciting.

“I have a distinctive style, I follow the guidelines, but we do it all very differently depending on our personality. Sometimes I get rid of my guidelines and do what I want. I have the ability to be the director and the producer.

“Classical music is wonderful, the composer, the pianist, all have personalities to become actors and inhabit their feelings and portray it through the music. My music is for everyone.

“Expect a lot of fireworks; we’ve gone for hair-raising songs, hands all over the keyboard from big influences and backgrounds.”

The concert, entitled ‘Bartlett & Harliono’ will take place at 7.30pm on October 12 at Trinity United Reformed Church.

The festival will run from 10–12 October.

Feature image credit: Kaupo Kikkas.

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