Nicholas McCarthy / Yamaha Concert Grand Piano / Royal Festival Hall

On the evening of 10th October I found myself in surroundings that few would associate with a Saturday night itinerary, First Presbyterian Church.

My calling was not absolution or a late night prayer, but something that offered a similar stillness and lifting of the heart, this being a recital from the famed pianist Nicholas McCarthy. Nicholas has graced headlines worldwide as the only one-handed pianist to graduate from the famed Royal College of Music, so the opportunity to witness such an inspirational figure, was not one that I wished to miss.

I will admit that I am not an avid follower of this form of music. However, I will say that all music, when at its best, can unify and, in my opinion, Nicholas managed to unite every soul in that room. The repertoire was tailored to all, offering both the classical and the contemporary and all were, satisfyingly, familiar. In a performance that lasted little over an hour, I was taken on a seamless, musical journey. I was transported to a carefree Summer’s day, via the dulcet tones of ‘Summertime’ and was soon at sea, reeling, from the vigorous notes of ‘Ocean’.

Nicholas managed to win his audience over from start to finish, offering witty and engaging interludes between songs, displaying a true love of his craft as well as those that have helped shape it. His sheer joy was contagious and although I could only see his back, I could clearly see his passion and emotion in every movement of his shoulders and every sweep of his fingers across his ivory keys.

As said, this may not have been the most conventional means for most to have spent their Saturday evening, but thanks to both his stunning delivery and his undeniable presence, this is not a night I will soon forget.

Joy… In crescendo!

 Siobhan McKenna, Ulster Bank Arts Ambassador