On the 28th of March it’s Piano Day. It was created by our friend Nils Frahm and the first one was last year so it’s a relatively new event but one that’s gaining momentum. Piano Day is a worldwide celebration and different from usual concerts and events in that it welcomes anyone who wants to take part. On this day every kind of piano lover – young and old, amateur and pro, of any musical direction can share their love of this instrument with friends and strangers alike. There will be events held all over the world – from London to Tokyo to Melbourne to Berlin.
Here at the hotel, we’ll celebrate Piano Day with a 24 hour piano concert in our lobby. We’ve invited 21 artists (plus some special guests) to fill the lobby with music for 24 hours, beginning at midnight on Sunday 27th March, and going all the way through into Monday, finishing at midnight on the 28th.
Amongst others, there’ll be performances from English composer and electronic musician Emika. Icelandic classical pianist Víkingur Ólafsson will perform and so will the Berlin-based Scottish Jazz pianist Declan Forde. There’s one name on the line-up that we were particularly interested in, that of Tom Adams from Cambridge. Tom moved to Berlin just a few months ago, however he has a pretty lovely connection to Berlin and also to the hotel.
In June 2014, we held a concert in our courtyard. Nils had just had a new bespoke piano made called the Una Corda. He was keen for people to hear and see it, and so he performed some of his pieces. It was breathtaking, as always, but one of the most memorable parts of the evening was when he invited any pianists in the audience to come up and play the Una Corda themselves. Tom was in the audience and accepted the invitation, performing one of his own songs. Nils initially acted as human microphone stand, but just as Tom was approaching the piano solo in the song, Nils spontaneously joined in, and it was pretty special. (The video is below). So we were curious to hear what had happened in between then and now, to make it so that Tom is back performing at the hotel, this time in a slightly more official capacity.
While completing his Masters in music, Tom was in Berlin in the summer of 2014 to give a talk at a conference. He had found himself at somewhat of a crossroads, not feeling completely ready to engage with ‘real life’ and was considering undertaking further study. However he says that after the evening in our courtyard “Basically, I met everyone I needed to meet, and things collided to mean I could pursue my music.” After performing his song, Tom was approached by a few people from the audience, including his soon to be manager, who arranged a meeting with him there and then.
After returning to the UK, he went on to compose a film score, was featured in a Max Richter remix album for Deutsche Grammophon, and also completed recording his debut EP. And now on the 28th of this month, he’ll be back at the hotel performing songs from this.
So what does Piano Day means to Tom? He believes that everyone has some sort of connection to the piano as you can find a piano in a lot of places…in schools, in hotels, in friend’s living rooms. “And they’ve all got their own story” he says. What he personally loves about the piano is the possibility to do several things at once. After growing up playing guitar in rock bands, Tom says it was a bit of a revelation when he realised that the piano allowed him to play different melodies on each hand, to add a synthesiser, to sing, to add live electronics and to generally experiment.
Tom grew up in the countryside and Berlin is the first big city he has lived in. He’s also never lived in an apartment before, and this is influencing the way he creates his music now. When there’s a space in his music, it’s filled with the sounds of the other humans around him. In the past that space was filled with silence, but now he says it’s nice to let go and not have to make it perfect. “That’s not what people are going to connect to”. And he’s right. The spontaneous performance of his song (with improvised back-up piano from Nils) was far from perfect, but it’s more or less the catalyst that got Tom to where he is now.
We’ll have more information soon about our Piano Day event, and we look forward to sharing some music with you on the 28th.