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Roxanne Leonard struck up a friendship with the Russian virtuoso, who appears in concert in Mountshannon this weekend. Pic: Arthur Ellis.

Virtuoso pianist to perform concert in east Clare

AN EVENING of Schubert, Schumann and Bach is in store in Mountshannon on Sunday night next as renowned pianist Alexander Ardakov makes a welcome return to Clare.

The virtuoso pianist, who has strong connections to East Clare, had been due to give a major recital in Glór, Ennis at the end of March, 2020, but the pandemic put paid to that. This month, he returns to the Banner County with a performance at St Caimin’s Church at 5pm on November 7.

Mr Ardakov, who lives in London, hails for the Volga region of Russia and as well as being an acclaimed musician is a Professor of Piano at a leading conservatoire.

He played to a capacity audience in Mountshannon in 2019 and excitement is building ahead of his return to the town. 

Roxanne Leonard who is a member of the Mountshannon Arts Festival committee had known Mr Ardakov when she lived, for a time, in London. She had been working with the Camphill Community of people with special needs, which had a hall and a great piano, meaning the centre would occasionally get calls from the agents of top class pianists, asking if they would like a concert – usually at very short notice.

“Alexander came to us there and that’s how I got to know him,” she explained. “Before we moved to Ireland, we had dinner with him and he said he would like to add Ireland to his map of places he had played, and that maybe I would organise that for him.”

Mr Ardakov has made notable radio recordings for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. His extensive discography consists of 20 different albums. These include recordings of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson.

Mr Ardakov, who has performed in some of the world’s largest and most prestigious venues, is the winner of the Kabalevsky Piano Competition in Russia and the Viotti International Music Competition in Vercelli, Italy. One reviewer said of him: “Alexander’s audiences are never left indifferent, they are swept up in the sensitivity, intensity and passion of his playing that takes them on a journey from the most tender and intimate perceptions to the dramatic peaks of life’s greatest moments.”

The Mountshannon performance, which takes place at St Caimin’s Church, will be Mr Ardakov’s third in Clare. He gave impromptu one, when Roxanne took him for dinner Killaloe in 2019.

“We went to the Piper’s Inn and Alexander immediately spotted the piano. He asked for the key and he played it. There were a few guys at the bar and their jaws just dropped when they heard him.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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