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Pianist Helene Grimaud Is 100% In The Moment

Mat Hennek
French pianist Helene Grimaud

Unlocking the secrets in music is a joyful enterprise for pianist Helene Grimaud. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on Grimaud’s approach to music and life. On Sunday, May 9th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1 and Monday May 10th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2, Helene Grimaud performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Brahms composed his second piano concerto in 1878. It has no explicit program, but is full of meaning for pianist Helene Grimaud.

"It has a beautiful quality of philosophical repose, of looking back onto a life," she says.  "So it has a particular poignant quality in many places. It’s a very conciliatory piece...like a massive chamber music work in a way. I am convinced the pieces have the keys to their own secrets.  It happens on a very personal level, where you get physically involved in it, where you reflect and think about it, play it in your mind."

Also an environmental activist and a founder of the Wolf Conservation Center in Salem, New York, Grimaud believes an approach to music can be informed by working with animals.

"It teaches you humility, because you have to meet them on their terms. You can’t expect them to meet you on yours," she says. "That’s another invaluable lesson, because when it comes to music it’s the same. You have to be 100 percent in the moment of what you’re doing — physically, emotionally, spiritually,  intellectually."

Helene Grimaud  has made over 22 recordings, written three books, and is a member of Musicians for Human Rights, an organization that strives to "foster a culture of humanism through music."

Helene Grimaud talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about her approach to Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, nature and animals, and how they are connected.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.