Great music’s his forte

THE WA Academy of Performing Arts at ECU has picked up its very own “fortepianist”. For real.

The word fortepianist may sound like the punchline to an Andrew Dice Clay joke, but it’s actually a distinguished profession involving performing on a fortepiano, the early piano of the 18th and early 19th century.

Geoffrey Lancaster AM, one of the world’s leading early keyboardists, is joining ECU as part of its plan to recruit 20 new professors to increase its research clout (Professor Lancaster is the third so far).

At WAAPA he’ll lead traditional research and performance-based studies into piano design and restoration, getting students involved with historical performance practice.

• Johann Andreas Stein’s fortepiano in the Berlin musical instrument museum. Photo by Gérard Janot. 

• Johann Andreas Stein’s fortepiano in the Berlin musical instrument museum. Photo by Gérard Janot.

One of his first projects is conducting Henry Purcell’s 17th century opera Dido and Aeneas with 60 WAAPA performers. It’s a work that wouldn’t be this complete without Prof Lancaster’s studious toil: he restored the piece to its original dimensions by reconstructing a prologue lost back in the 1700s.

Prof Lancaster was the first Australian to win a major international keyboard competition, is an ARIA best classical album winner, and studied fortepiano at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague along with a boatload of other high appointments worldwide. To our knowledge he’s never performed with Genesis.

• Professor Geoffrey Lancaster is an old school fortepianist. Photo supplied by ECU. 

• Professor Geoffrey Lancaster is an old school fortepianist. Photo supplied by ECU.

Even with all his cultured credentials he’s well pleased to be in humble old Mt Lawley: “The WAAPA faculty includes many acclaimed arts professionals and master teachers, and it is my privilege to work with them to offer a remarkable resource for aspiring young performers.”

He’s in distinguished company in the professorial research fellow plan, joining international oceanography expert Pere Masqué and radicalisation expert Anne Aly.

by DAVID BELL

933 Italo Aust 15x3

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