Clayderman still in tune with his audience

When he first performed in China with five concerts in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in 1992, French pianist Richard Clayderman and his team seemed out of tune with their surroundings and were not, initially, confident about the tour. You could say they were feeling off-key.

“The country was quite different compared with what it is today. There were no huge buildings and people dressed only in blue or gray. They looked curiously at us,” the pianist recalls. “However, once I stepped on stage in Beijing, there came a huge applause from an audience of nearly 20,000. They gave me the confidence to start a new career in this country.”

China is now the country where Clayderman performs the most. Since 1992, Clayderman, with his trademark blond hair and blue eyes, has held nearly 500 concerts in the country in nearly 100 cities. Every year, he gives about 50 concerts in China.

On Jan 18, the 66-year-old pianist will return to Beijing with a recital at the Great Hall of the People with some of his best known pieces, including Ballad for Adeline, A Comme Amour and Lyphard Melody. The recital is part of the ongoing 20th Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, one of the largest annual art festivals held in the capital from Jan 6 to Feb 4.

Clayderman will also perform adaptations of Chinese songs as well as interpreting some famous hits, both classical pieces and film themes, such as Star Wars and Les Choristes.

“I travel a great deal every year. One of my hobbies is to collect different kinds of music. In my repertoire, you can find music from every corner of the world, including my adaptations of Chinese songs,” he says.

Before his first trip to China, the pianist listened to several Chinese songs, and they had an immediate impact.

Butterfly Lovers, one of China’s most celebrated violin concertos, was one of Clayderman’s favorites and, naturally, he will perform the piece during his upcoming recital. He has performed it not only in China but also in other countries, including Australia, Canada and the United States.

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