Edward Cooke and Rob Gallop offer their first public performance together – and their Festival of Chichester debut – when they combine on Sunday, July 14 at 4pm for an afternoon of piano duets.
Both from Chichester, Edward, a family law solicitor, and Rob, a tutor, are promising a musical journey across Europe, from the well-known Slavonic dances of Dvorak to the hidden Spanish gems of Moszkowski, exploring the delights of a variety of musical traditions along the way.
Doors open 3.30pm for drinks at St Paul’s Church, Chichester. Admission will be free, with donations to Chestnut Tree House welcome.
“I know Rob through our daughters who are friends from school,” says Edward. “We met about nine or ten years ago, and our daughters remain great friends still. We met up as families and both realised that we loved the piano.
“We went round to lunch one Sunday and I saw the piano and thought we could have a go together.
“Rob had a bit of piano duet music, and we got together. I think we started with Poulenc’s sonata for piano duet. I hadn’t seen it before and it is quite a tricky piece – we will be playing it in the concert.
“But that first time, I sight read it and Rob knew it… and I was surprised that he didn’t just give me my marching orders!”
But the fact is that it worked well, as Rob explains.
“When you are playing duets, I think you are looking for someone that is going to appreciate a similar kind of music.
“And also you want somebody that is not so egotistical that they are going to hog the limelight throughout the whole thing!
“And you have also got to be able to share the space!
“ Some of the pieces are quite tight when you are playing with four hands on the same piano… so it has got to be someone that you can be physically close to!
“You get a lot of four hands one piano pieces that are just arrangements of other well-known pieces, but we have got lots of pieces that are specifically written for four hands and one piano. Edward has got quite a stash of music that he has inherited and built up over the years.
“I have got some Spanish dance music, and he has got some Slavonic dance music, and we also got into Norwegian dance music. By the time we thought about doing a concert together, there was a theme of travelling around Europe emerging.”
The joy is that they each bring different things to the table. Or rather, keyboard.
“But I think the main thing is that we just want to offer a wonderful, entertaining afternoon of music for a good cause.”
Both are looking forward to all the other exciting things which might follow on from their Festival of Chichester performance. There is plenty of potential – and lots of music still to discover.
As Edward says: “There is a lot we can do as a pairing.
“I hope that this is the first of many concert and festival appearances, and it would be lovely to try different venues as well.
“There is a lot that we can explore. It would be lovely to do some more two-piano music. That would be fun.
“But for the moment, it is just such a wonderful thrill to be able to perform this music. We were both musicians at a fairly high level though we have both gone off in different directions in our careers.”