Internationally acclaimed classical pianist Barry Douglas is looking forward to returning to Ulster Hall on Friday night (May 27) with the Ulster Orchestra after a 3-year absence – but he still has painful memories of his previous visit.
e told the Belfast Telegraph: “The day before the first rehearsal with the Ulster Orchestra I slipped on a wet sheet and injured my shoulder. I was in a lot of pain, but I persevered.
“The night before the Belfast concert we played at the Guildhall in Derry and the pain was so severe that I could almost reach my hand to the left side of the piano that it was very difficult when I performed Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto.
“I thought I might not be able to stand the concert in Belfast, but during the night my shoulder became less sore and I was able to finish the performance.
“Doctors later confirmed that I had broken my shoulder, but when I did the scan six months later, it healed and I was given everything. I was very lucky. “
Ulster Hall is one of Barry’s favorite concert venues.
“It’s one of the best in the world and I’ve played in many of them. It has great acoustics and it is also very beautiful.
“I remember falling in love with Ulster Hall when I attended my first concert there at the age of 10 or eleven, and I’m still in love with it. When I perform on the stage of Ulster Hall, I feel like I’m coming home. “
He says the audience is also very special.
“They’re very demanding in music, and you almost hear them actively listening when you play, which really inspires me and other solo artists.”
Ulster-born Barry Douglas, a former student at Belfast Methodist College, has had a brilliant professional career since he first became famous, winning a gold medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow.
He was the first non-Russian to do so after American pianist Van Cleburne won the competition in 1958.
Barry continues a busy international schedule.
Earlier this week he returned from a series of concerts in Japan, and on Sunday his Camerata Ireland Orchestra performs in Dublin. He then travels to Spain, then returns to Limerick for a concert, and then travels to Finland for two weeks of performances.
He says, “It’s not so bad when you drive, but it’s harder when you stop. It’s a bit like a spinning top that eventually loses momentum.
“Usually on the third day after a long flight I have a jet lag. I look forward to spending time at my house in Lurgan this summer, mowing the lawn. ”
Barry Douglas is also the artistic director of the Clandeboye Festival, which runs from 20 to 27 August this year.
Two years ago Lindy, the Marquis of Duffering and Ava, who for many years hosted the festival on her estate, passed away. Barry added: “Her contribution was uncalculated.
“She left us a great legacy. Lindy was a big fan and a great friend. She is very sad. ”
Details of this year’s Festival and booking options will be announced soon.
Barry Douglas, meanwhile, focused on a performance Friday night in Ulster Hall, but added, “I need to be careful not to slip on wet leaves beforehand.”