Alistair McGowan releases debut solo piano album
The actor, impressionist, stand-up comic and singer reveals himself to be a talented pianist
~ Album released 29th September 2017
Best known for his BAFTA-winning comedy show, ‘Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression’, in which he delighted audiences nationwide with pinpoint-accurate impersonations of celebrities such as David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Jonathan Ross, Alistair McGowan is now preparing for his most demanding role of all – that of pianist – as he releases an album of solo piano works for Sony Classical.
This debut album features McGowan performing several short classical pieces, all chosen and learned by the actor/impressionist (who could only ever play two pieces) but who then practised for up to six hours a day over a nine-month period in his attempt to finally conquer this beautiful instrument, despite already being in his early 50s.
We love this Impressions Masterclass he made with Rory Bremner for The Guardian:
‘By taking on the idea of making an album, I hope to encourage people of any age to play the piano, but perhaps particularly those at an age where it's easy to think that it's all too late’.
McGowan had started out playing the piano as a boy, but gave it up after only two years in favour of tennis and football. He went on to train as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and worked for many years on television, on radio and in the theatre (being nominated for an Olivier Award in 2006), as well as successfully performing around the country for almost thirty years as a stand-up comic.
Having always yearned for the piano, in 2016, McGowan devised the one-man stage show, ‘Erik Satie’s-faction’, based on the French composer’s comedic writings, letters and music, for which he had to learn to play some short piano pieces by Satie and Debussy as an integral part of the show – the first time he had ever played in public. Emboldened by this well-received first public experience, it was not long before he was enthusiastically identifying and learning other short pieces which he felt that he – and others with similarly limited playing experience – could realistically manage.
‘I have become so passionate about the piano over the past three years. It has really taken me over and I have made the time to practise (time I never thought I had) with a few simple lifestyle changes. This album contains a wealth of beautiful music that I think anyone can tackle, given time, passion and determination. Learning to play the piano has been an incredible challenge – often frustrating – but, ultimately, hugely enjoyable and emotional. It’s so satisfying when you realise that you are improving daily. I hope this encourages everyone who harbours a secret ambition take up music – it really is never too late!’
We agree with Alistair. IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO PLAY THE PIANO! In fact, inside issue No 96 – still available in digital format – we feature an article written by Pianist regular contributor Melanie Spanswick about rediscovering the piano after a long break.
The Piano Album will be released 29 September on Sony Classical and you can pre-order the album online now: