When the curtain goes up on the opening night of The Georgian Theatre Royal’s Autumn Season on Friday 3 September, all eyes will be on international pianist Albert Lau who will be delivering the first professional performance since the pandemic closed our doors back in March 2020.
However, Albert will share the stage with another star – the Theatre’s magnificent Steinway grand piano, making its first appearance following its recent restoration.
“Lockdown and the subsequent cessation of live performances seemed like a great opportunity to send the piano away for a bit of TLC,” said the Theatre’s Manager, Clare Allen. “We knew it would be a lengthy process so it was a good time to have it out of action.”
Tasked with the job of bringing the Steinway up to top concert standard was the Piano Workshop based in Kirkbymoorside, near Pickering. Here the instrument was stripped down to its component parts, and then re-built and re-strung. Its cabinet has also been re-sprayed to a contemporary high-gloss concert piano finish.
The Steinway was originally bought by the Theatre in 1965 for of £1,500. It was part-funded using a donation of £1,000 from Lady Barlow, also known as the acclaimed actress Margaret Rawlings (1906-1966).
In the following decades, many famous people have played the Steinway, most notably the distinguished American pianist and conductor, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, who performed in June 1966.
Another great coup was one of the 20th century’s best-known composers Benjamin Britten in May 1967, who played alongside the tenor Peter Pears. Other renowned musicians have included Kathryn Stott (1984), Barry Douglas (1990) and Benjamin Frith (2009).
Albert Lau who will be taking the bows at the opening concert on 3 September is also fast making a name for himself on the international circuit. It is fitting that he is also a Young Steinway Artist. Albert first visited The Georgian Theatre Royal shortly before lockdown and is delighted to be returning to perform on its stage with its wonderful acoustics.
His varied programme will include Beethoven’s popular “Appassionata’ and works by Clara Schumann, Franck, Chopin, York Bowen and Ravel.
The opening concert takes place on Friday 3 September at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £16 and can be bought online or by calling the Box Office on 01748 825252.