HASTINGS INTERNATIONAL PIANO – Claire Martin OBE and Nikki Iles – 28th May – Rye Creative Centre

Alongside the well established Concerto Competition Hastings International Piano organises a variety of events throughout the year to promote the piano in different settings with a number of prestigious performers. In this concert of songs in jazz arrangements the pianist had an equal billing with the singer. She had two roles – providing accompaniment and, as with much jazz, sometimes taking the lead and becoming the soloist for a while.

Both performers are acclaimed musicians in their own right. Claire Martin led us through a well constructed tribute of songs mostly associated with Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. Brilliantly accompanied at the piano throughout by Nikki Iles the programme included songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein & Gershwin.

Claire Martin’s voice sometimes declaimed with great force and at other times teased and whispered. At times there was humour and playfulness and at other times a broader straighter sound. In a similar way Nikki Isles sometimes gently supported and at other times extended and highlighted melodies, with adventurous harmony and rhythmic dexterity.

The venue for this concert was new. The recently renovated old gym now forms a versatile auditorium for performance at the heart of Rye Creative Centre. Much thought had gone into making the audience welcome and comfortable as well as necessarily socially distanced. It is encouraging that at a time when performers and audiences have been severely restricted this new venue has been developed so successfully.

A very enjoyable evening.

Further events will take place here as well as at Fairlight Hall and White Rock Theatre.


Stephen Page