First off, it was great to see the Science and Industry Museum being chosen to host a MIF event – and how impressively the 1830s warehouse was too, as guests were directed first across railway tracks and then, by torchlight, through fog and into a room lit by nothing more than a few spotlights.
In the centre of the room, an open grand piano and a couple of stools. The setting was something special – and thankfully so too was the show. For 90 minutes an audience of 200 sat almost completely in silence, transfixed by actor Peter Guinness and crazy-haired pianist Mikhail Rudy.
The two performances were out of this world. Guinness, for me the star, gave a masterclass in memory – stumbling with his lines only twice and quickly correcting himself each time – while Rudy’s Chopin recitals… well, I’ll leave it to those more qualified to comment. This was hairs-on-end stuff.
Beside distant police sirens and the rumble of trains and trams, which only really added to the atmosphere, I’m happy to report no interruptions for this most hushed of experiences. Just one poor lady, caught in a coughing fit, left during the performance. Me, I crossed my legs most of the time, trying to pre-empt any possible urge for a toilet break.
In summary, this is where the festival should concentrate if it is to succeed: by inviting some of the arts world’s leading figures to help shine bright lights on Manchester’s hidden gems.
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