STUART REED: This extraordinary concert by one-handed pianist must not be missed

Pianist Nicholas McCarthy, who has one hand, is performing with Havant Symphony Orchestra            Picture by Paul Marc Mitchell
Pianist Nicholas McCarthy, who has one hand, is performing with Havant Symphony Orchestra Picture by Paul Marc Mitchell
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Our regular contributor, musician Stuart Reed, says Havant Symphony Orchestra’s next concert will be a show-stopper

There’s always something extraordinary going on at the Havant Symphony Orchestra.

The big news is that they’re performing a piano concerto and the soloist is a talented young man with one hand.

At 7.30pm on Saturday, December 2, at Oaklands School in Waterlooville, Nicholas McCarthy will play Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.

Ravel, who wrote the famous Bolero, also composed a special work for the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right hand in the First World War.

Nicholas was born in 1989 without a right hand.

Inspired by hearing a friend play Beethoven, he was determined to become a pianist.

He was told by many that he’d never do it. But in 2012 he became the only one-handed pianist ever to graduate from the prestigious Royal College of Music.

Now a champion of the dynamic and brave world of left hand alone repertoire, he’s played most top venues in the UK, including the Albert Hall.

He’s toured all over the world – from South Korea to the USA, and from Kazakhstan to South Africa.

Under the baton of Havant’s musical director, Jonathan Butcher, the orchestra is also rehearsing industriously for the concert.

Every year the HSO offers a bursary to give an aspiring conductor a chance to sharpen up his or her skills on the rostrum.

Like sorcerer’s apprentices, they benefit from Jonathan’s experience and valuable coaching.

New on the scene is 23-year-old Richard Miller.

Unusually, he is not an instrumentalist but a highly qualified singer and composer who graduated from the Royal College of Music last year.

He will conduct A Shropshire Lad by Vaughan Williams.

The third piece that night will be Edward Elgar’s Cockaigne, an exciting overture portraying life in old London town.

Concert tickets are on sale now online at havantorchestras,org,uk or through TicketSource on 03336 663366.