Tedeschi in Freo

“We have the best pianist in the country coming, so we’re giving him the best concert grand piano we can find,” Fremantle council festival maestro Alex Marshall says.

That was news to the man set to tinkle the ivories, Simon Tedeschi: “[But] I have played some wonderful pianos in WA and will be impressed if they have got me the best,” he says from his Sydney home.

The piano will be wheeled into St Johns Church, opposite the town hall, as part of the city’s annual heritage festival.

Now 35, Tedeschi performed at the Sydney Opera House aged nine, when nerves weren’t a problem: “It was the most comfortable I’ve been in my career,” he tells the Herald. “Probably because I was too young to know what I was doing.”

• Simon Tedeschi. Photo supplied |  Maja Baska

• Simon Tedeschi. Photo supplied |  Maja Baska

It was a different matter when, aged 13, he performed a private recital for Luciano Pavarotti: “[He] was a larger than life character, surrounded by a phalanx of supporters, it was pretty intense for a young bloke.”
Since then, Tedeschi’s career and reputation as a pianist has seen him perform before Danish royalty, Vladimir Putin, George Bush, Nelson Mandela, and at a charitable benefit for Cambodian orphans, where the Dalai Lama was an honoured guest. His hands are movie stars: they featured in the Oscar-winning movie Shine, as those of acclaimed Perth pianist David Helfgott, played by Geoffrey Rush.

While nerves may kick in prior to a concert these days, it’s not because of who’s in the audience.

“I guess having played for so many dignitaries I am rather unfazed whether it’s the royal family, or playing at the Fremantle Navy Club.”

Which he did 16 years ago, cementing a lasting association with the port city: “I love Fremantle,” he says.

Described by critics and musical peers as one of the finest artists in the world, Tedeschi has won a heap of awards, including Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year, and was awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal.

In 2000 he was signed by Sony Australia under it classics label, and his debut CD was nominated for an ARIA.

The Fremantle concert will be a “kaleidoscope” of music from the classics to “very on the edge” jazz, Tedeschi says: “[And] there’ll be American music, Russian music and French music.”

Kaleidoscope is on at St Johns Church, William Street, Fremantle, May 27, 8pm. Tix $35.20 at oztix.com.au

by JENNY D’ANGER

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