Finghin Collins is an internationally acclaimed Irish pianist.
He performs regularly with major orchestras at prestigious concert halls worldwide, as well as appearing in concerts and festivals at home in Ireland.
As Artistic Director of Music for Galway's Midwinter Festival, taking place from 19-21 January, Finghin has chosen music by composers inspired by love. Beloved: Composers In Love features music by the great Romantics Brahms, Wagner and Schumann (Robert and Clara), along with other musical love letters by Beethoven, Schubert, Janácek, Britten and Schoenberg, performed by an array of Ireland's classical music talents. The Beloved festival will also feature an afternoon recital of popular love-inspired arias and duos from the world of opera - more details on the programme here.
I had three different and wonderful experiences in the cinema at the very end of 2017 – I saw the Italian film Call Me By Your Name with such beautiful cinematography and a very moving, sad ending. I then saw a film of Umberto Giordano’s opera Andrea Chenier, from La Scala in Milan in a terrific performance, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, with soprano Anna Netrebko and her husband, the tenor Yusif Eyvasov, singing the principal roles. Finally, for some light relief with my nephew at Christmas, Paddington 2 hit the spot.
I'm totally in love with Brahms these days, in particular the string quintets and sextets. I think I heard the B flat sextet four times live in various festivals last summer; it was fascinating to compare the various performances. We’re presenting the G major sextet at our BELOVED - Composers in Love festival in Galway this weekend, such gloriously, hopelessly romantic music.
I am currently reading two excellent books: the new Harvey Sachs biography of one of the finest conductors of all time – Arturo Toscanini – and William Boyd’s cheeky Any Human Heart – a sort of modern take on Adrian Mole… Last year, my book of the year was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, totally gripping and heart-wrenching. I also loved Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and have two more books of hers lined up to read next.
The last play I saw was at the Abbey Theatre – it was the adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room – which I still haven’t read. It was most impressive as a piece of theatre, but it was the quality of the acting - and singing – that really stood out for me.
Funnily enough, I hardly watch any television any more, I don’t seem to have, or make, the time. The only series I ever got really engrossed in was Downton Abbey. These days all of my friends tell me I have to see The Crown but I haven’t got around to it.
I was very impressed by the physical capabilities of Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, who made his debut at the National Concert Hall recently, playing a most unusual Chopin-inspired programme. The guy is just so talented, it would make you sick (if you let it).
Last summer I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to perform at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. It’s an absolute hive of artistic activity, every second establishment seems to be an art gallery of some sort, and there is a great emphasis on Native American art. In particular, I enjoyed learning about Georgia O’Keeffe (whose father was of Irish descent) and seeing the development of her work, which is permanently on show at the eponymous museum in the town. Interestingly, she holds the record for the highest price paid for a painting by a female artist.
I’m a huge fan of Oliver Callan’s satire; I am totally in awe of his talent and his ability to totally ‘become’ another person. I never miss his appearances on RTE Radio 1, the podcasts are a great accompaniment to the inevitable ironing! I also regularly enjoy many of the fine programmes on RTE lyric fm.
As a current affairs junkie, I am always on the Irish Times website, and as I travel abroad a great deal, it’s such an easy way to stay in touch with what’s going on. I also enjoy and admire Twitter, though so far I am sticking to my position that life is too short for Facebook (or Instagram, or Snapchat, or whatever…)
The Next Big Thing...
The next big thing seems to be rejuvenation of the ruling classes - many of the more recently-elected heads of government in Europe and further afield (including our own Leo) are younger than me, which is curiously refreshing. Oh – and gin – it’s everywhere, in all its new-found diverstiy - with fancy tonic water to boot. It seems to be the new beer. Whatever next...