The British School Jakarta played host to renowned pianist Sam Haywood last month, in a splendid performance that attracted a great number of classical music enthusiasts – including British Ambassador to Indonesia HE Mr. Moazzam Malik. The recital, lasting approximately one and a half hour, once again brought out the best in Haywood – “passionate flair and sparkling clarity” as dubbed by The New York Times and “dazzling, evocative playing” as well as “lyrical sensitivity” as praised by The Washington Post.
It was ravishing indeed as hundreds of students and staff along with their families and other invitees from the British Embassy continued to give roaring applauses throughout the concert that took place at BSJ’s Raffles Theatre. The repertoire presented by the leading British concert pianist that day was a ‘who’s who’ list of the best composers in the world: Chaconne (Bach); Impromptus D899 Nos 3 and 4 (Schubert); A Prole do Bebê Book 1 – The Dolls (Villa-Lobos: The White Porcelain Doll, The Papier-Mâché Doll, The Cloth Witch Doll, The Rag Doll and The Punch Doll); Scherzo No 2 in B Flat Minor Op 31, Berceuse Op 57 and Polonaise in A Flat Op 53. The latter three were written by Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Chopin.
“I really worship Chopin, Beethoven. They are like gods to me. I sometimes talk to them before performance, sort of like praying. By talking or praying like that, it makes me feel more humble and smaller compared to them. I mean, it makes me feel not that important because Beethoven is an important figure and thus it makes me less nervous,” Haywood said in an interview after the show.
Other than playing songs written by his idols, Haywood has also written his own music, which included, among others, Songs of the Penguins, Ballade in A Minor and Russian Dance.
“I write songs for the important people in my life: my wife, my mom and close friends. I think they will be happy if I write songs for them. And I always deeply think about the structure and approaches during the writing process. But whenever I play a new song on the piano, I just let it fly, let it go, because that is when the magic happens,” he said.
Haywood, who started playing the piano at the age of four, is also the inventor of memorystars®, a tool that can significantly reduce the time needed to memorise a music score or indeed any printed text. Following his early success as a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 1986, the Royal Philharmonic Society awarded him the Julius Isserlis Scholarship. Haywood studied both at the Universität der Künste in Vienna and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His mentors have included David Hartigan, Paul Badura-Skoda and Maria Curcio.