It’s Sunday afternoon, an audience of 200 people are sitting in the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre watching and listening to world-class classical pianist Julian Gargiulo play Chopin’s Etude Opus 10 No 12 as the opening piece of his concert, he has the 200 with him almost instantly.
I am a casual observer of classical music, I’ve only been to a handful of classical concerts, all of them staid, stiff and mostly dull, Mr Gargiulo, the pianist with the hair as he jokingly refers to himself, is the absolute antithesis of what I’d come to expect from a standard classical piano recital.
He is entertaining. He is funny, engaging and exciting to watch. The Italian (via New York and Paris) is a master of his instrument, but he is also highly skilled at working an audience.
He plays for the crowd but also with them. Placing a camera above the piano keys and projecting the vision onto a big screen behind him is a masterstroke and is just one of many audiovisual treats the Dubbo crowd experiences during the show. It is like a magician revealing his tricks and it adds an enjoyable aspect to the show.
Original composition Finding Nikita is a beautiful piece written about the experience of losing his daughter in a playground and then finding her again, it is cinematic, frantic in parts and tender in others and he plays it brilliantly.
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The show is interactive, along with the piano key vision there are other projections on the big screen. Some joke with the audience about keeping their attention during a quiet passage of music, one asks for us to follow him on Facebook, another shows how he wraps his baby son tightly to his body so he can practice, all show the artist’s sense of humour and willingness to poke fun at the genre he plays in.
Chopin’s Minute Waltz provides one of the many opportunities the pianist takes during the show to play with the audience. Asking us to time the waltz. Involving the crowd in the naming of an original composition and playing charades with two good sports from the audience, all set to music, it makes the concert fly; no one was clock watching that is for sure. Original compositions sit perfectly alongside those of Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff.
A measure of how well Mr Gargiulo’s show was received comes in its purest form. The crowd simply do not want to go home. Most concerts, rock, pop or classical may have one encore, Julian G does six today! The encore section of the show ran almost as long as the regular program. The fact Gargiulo kept playing provided pure joy for both artist and audience. Bravo!