Saddles and piano stools

The Olympianist, Anthony Hewitt, is welcomed to Clitheroe by its Mayor, Coun. Allan Knox. Photo: Ken Geddes
The Olympianist, Anthony Hewitt, is welcomed to Clitheroe by its Mayor, Coun. Allan Knox. Photo: Ken Geddes
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Friday afternoon, and on time, the “Olympianist” – internationally acclaimed pianist and cycling enthusiast – Anthony Hewitt rode into Clitheroe.

He is cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, giving 23 concerts on the way to raise money for children’s and musical charities. On his arrival in Clitheroe, where he was to play at The Grand, he was warmly welcomed by the town’s Mayor, Coun. Alan Knox, and Mr Tony Cooper, chairman of Clitheroe Concerts Society, which was hosting the performance.

Clitheroe has the good fortune to be half-way through his 1,300-mile journey, the distance increased by the need to find a route with concert facilities. He is also supported en route by his “BeethoVAN”, carrying his own piano for performances at more remote locations unable to provide one. It is even used as a portable stage for impromptu concerts in places like market squares.

Before the doors opened at The Grand the queue made it obvious that there was going to be a good audience and by the start of the concert there was an almost full house.

Among the concert goers was Mr Xen Kelsey MBE from Ripon, who organises youth orchestras. Xen is walking in the opposite direction as a part of his campaign to highlight problems in UK musical education, a very kindred cause, so it was appropriate that the two campaigners should meet half-way on their journeys, in Clitheroe.

Anthony’s concert included works by Schumann, Schubert, Beethoven and Chopin, all displaying the pianists consumate skill. He also talked about a new composition, “Piano Cycle”, which he had commissioned from composer Stephen Goss in conjunction with the Swaledale Festival. The themes of cycling and the Olympics are used, with five movements representing the five Olympic rings and including “A flat” – a jokey musical pun on the cyclist’s nightmare – and the final movement, “Velodrome”, written using only six chords to represent the four corners and two straights.

At the end of a virtuoso performance the applause and cheers seemed to go on forever and Anthony gave an encore of Rachmaninov’s G minor prelude.

Among the audience were Stewart and Susan Clark from Low Moor, who had never been to such a concert before and were so thrilled that they arranged to cycle with Anthony the following day and guide him to Hawes. Anthony’s onward progress can be followed on http://olympianist.com/Blog/View-by-tag/1/

l Clitheroe Concerts Society’s next concert will be in the Ribble Valley Borough Council Council Chamber, in Church Street, at 7-30 p.m. on Wednesday June 6th, when it presents the brilliant young Astrum Guitar Duo. This is music for everybody! Admission is free, but donations towards the Society will be welcome. No tickets are needed, just go along. For more information visit the society’s website: www.clitheroeconcerts.org