Ivo De Greef

  

Biography

Artist Interview

Festival Programme

Biog

Ivo started playing the piano at the age of six. After obtaining a Master of Music degree at the Brussels Conservatoire (where he studied with Jan Michiels), he moved to the UK to further his studies with Philip Martin at the Birmingham Conservatoire and spend two years specialising in tango music at the Rotterdam Conservatoire with Gustavo Beytelmann and the Conservatoire Edgar Varèse in Paris with Juan José Mosalini.

His wide and eclectic taste has led him to be involved in different projects across various genres of music. Ivo has collaborated with artists such as Frederic Rzewski, Misia, Henri Demarquette, Joe Broughton and Keith Lewis and has featured regularly on European radio stations (BBC, Classic FM, Klara, Antena 2…). He performs both as a soloist (currently with his own “Tribute to Keith Jarrett” project) and as part of different ensembles (Noszferatu, El Después) at major venues and festivals throughout Europe, the USA, Japan and South America.

Ivo also appeared in the musical line-up to the 2002 award-winning West-End play “Humble Boy” by Catherine Jones and is Musical Director of the London Tango Orchestra.

“a refreshingly unassuming virtuoso” (Vortex Jazz Review 2009)

Selective Discography:

“DERECHO VIEJO” / MALA PINTA [2004]

“Gran Septeto LA ACADEMIA” / LA ACADEMIA [Sam, 2006]

“REUNIÓN” / EL DESPUÉS [Tipica, 2006]

“TRAVESÍA” / MALA PINTA [Dragonfish, 2007]

“DREMPEL” / NOSZFERATU [NMC, 2010]

“YO VENGO A OFRECER MI CORAZON – LIVE IN HIROSHIMA 2009” (CD+DVD) / ANNA SAEKI & EL DESPUÉS [Moon Music, 2010]

“COMO UN TREN” / EL DESPUÉS [Silvox Records, 2011]

More info on:

www.myspace.com/ivodegreef

 

Interview

What was the first piece for left hand only – that you performed?

REALM by Robert Mitchell

Why did you choose such a piece? (or why was it chosen for you?)

I commissioned several pianist-composers from different backgrounds and different styles of music to write me a piece as a tribute to the great jazz pianist Keith Jarrett to include in a solo piano recital I conceived together with Antena 2 Radio Portugal in 2009. Robert chose to write me a left hand only piece which worked really beautifully within the rest of the program.

How often do you perform music for one hand? Could it be more often?

Not very often. It really depends on the opportunities that present themselves. Of course it could and should be more often!

Do you have a preference of instrument for the performance of this music?

I would generally choose and instrument that isn’t too heavy in the bass register. This for pedalling reasons (left hand only pieces also require – in my humble opinion – a very refined pedal technique) and also for the lower registers not to obscure the middle and high registers too much. My preferred instrument would always be a Fazioli, but I think both Yamaha and Steinway work great as well. Bˆsendorfer on the other hand wouldn’t be so easy.

What kind of feedback have you had in performing lh ony piano music?

generally very positive. People often aren’t even aware, just listening to the music, that it is only one hand playing :-)

How do you prepare for this type of performance?

Just practising a lot of left hand, I guess :-) I try to separate all the different voices (practise them seperately and in different combinations, with different fingereings) and experiment a lot with finding the right pedalling to bring out the different layers within the music as clearly as possible.

What is your opinion on this approach ? Has great music come out of these circumstances?

Of course it has. I find that working with a limited amount of tools can often give quite amazing results since the composer and performer have to resort to different techniques than usual to express their intentions.

What effect has it had on your relationship to the piano, your creativity as an improvisor/composer/commissioner?

It has opened up a world of new possibilties in sound and technique for my left hand. As I mentioned before, most of the research as an interpreter goes into finding adequate and intricate pedalling, as well as a myriad of different “touches” and colours with just one hand. It hasn’t changed my relationship to the piano dramatically, but is has certainly enriched it.

What do you think about the Leftitude festival?

A wonderful opportunity to put left hand only piano music a bit more in the spotlight. There are some real gems in this repertoire that certainly deserve to be heard and discovered by a wider audience.

Do you see this Festival and the surrounding promotion and visibility as something that will be inspirational to artists and individuals facing other challenges?

That is certainly a possibilty. I am aware that there are different branches within the piano repertoire and education that focus on pianists with physical and/or mental disabilities. I certainly think it a worthwhile effort to bring this into the open so more people can be aware of the fact that it is still possible to make beautiful music whilst being physically and/or mentally impaired. Same goes for the idea that even within a very limited framework, art can still thrive.

Are there any other ideas you would suggest to make it even more meaningful and productive in that light?

I am not so up to date with the British education system, but would certainly suggest that this Festival should also be promoted to organisers and organisations (like for instance the Barbican Centre) that regularly set up community projects.

Who would you choose as an outstanding artist/composer in this special field?

Ravel as composer, Leon Fleischer as pianist

Who would you like to see perform at the Leftitude festival?

Leon Fleischer

Is there an equivalent approach to other instruments? Performers using this approach?

I am not sure. I can only say that within the world of percussion there are left hand only drummers, percussionists with only 1 foot…

Anything else on this topic/festival you would like to say?

Hope this is only the start of a recurring event :-)