Sunday 18 August 2019

My cultural life: pianist Dearbhla Collins

Dearbhla Collins
Dearbhla Collins
Billy Joel
Alone in Berlin
Unbearable Lightness of Being

Dearbhla Collins is one of Ireland's foremost pianists. She performs recitals with singers Benjamin Appl, Patricia Bardon and Tara Erraught. She also regularly works with Dame Ann Murray and Brigitte Fassbaender. She is the senior vocal coach at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and has coached in the Universitat fur Musik, Vienna, and the Beijing Central Conservatory. She is also much in demand as a chamber musician. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the NUI last October. Dearbhla will perform in the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival, featuring world-class performances from the classical and chamber music genres, from this Tuesday to Thursday. She is married to David Davin-Power, former political correspondent at RTE, and has two children, Ben (14) and Emily (nine). The family is returning to one of their favourite annual holiday spots this year - the south of France, near the Spanish border, where you can pop over to Spain for a spot of lunch.

Film: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (above), a film of the book of the same name by Milan Kundera. Normally I think books are much better than their film versions but I think here the Philip Kaufman movie is nearly better than the book. Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche are mesmerising together and the use of the Janacek music as a leitmotif throughout is absolute genius. A beautiful film in every way.

Design: 1950s cabinet

We have a classic 1950s cabinet in our house which was handmade as a wedding present for my husband's parents. It looks like an ordinary sideboard but hey presto it opens up into a James Bond-style inlaid cabinet! David often says we must get rid of 'that old thing' but I really love it.

Book: Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin

My all-time favourite book is Alone in Berlin (above) written by Hans Fallada. It is based on a true story about a working-class couple in 1940s Berlin who mount their own personal campaign against the Nazi regime after the death of a family member in action. This very ordinary couple find the will, the means and the courage to do what few Germans did and they do it knowing full well what will happen to them if they are caught.

Artist: Dorothy Cross

Irish artist Dorothy Cross, who is probably best known for her Ghost Ship installation in 1998. I don't think anyone who saw that haunting light out in Dublin Bay will ever forget it. I had the experience of working with her years ago when I did a song cycle by Emily Dickinson in a concert, and she made me a costume which had dead magpies stitched into it.

Singer: Billy Joel

I have always admired Billy Joel (below) as a musician and pianist and his music was a soundtrack to my studies in the 1990s. I shared an apartment with an American pianist in Vienna and we would do our weekly smelly kitchen wash up to an entire Billy Joel CD.

Billy Joel

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