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Pianist praises “exciting” new venue ahead of concert


ONE of the North-East’s most talented young musicians has told of his excitement at the growth of a former Catholic seminary as a spectacular new cultural venue.

Alex Chisholm-Loxley was speaking ahead of performing a varied classical programme in the magnificent surroundings of the Exhibition Hall at Ushaw, on the outskirts of Durham, on Saturday, August 4.

The recital will include much-loved works by Schubert, Mozart and Chopin, and admission is free.

Alex, 26, grew up in Durham City, and started having piano lessons as an eight-year-old, practising at home on a single-octave toy keyboard. He moved to Hamsterley at 15 and studied music at the University of Leeds.

His first recital at Ushaw last year was well-received and he is returning by popular demand to a venue he describes as “very special”.

His programme will include Mozart Sonata in B-Flat Major; two Schubert Impromptus, one of E-Flat Major and one in G-Flat Major; Chopin’s Ballade No. I, which features in film The Pianist.

He will be performing on a restored 1908 Broadwood grand piano and will also be playing some of his own compositions.

Ushaw closed as a Catholic seminary seven years ago and is now becoming established as a cultural and arts venue, with conference facilities and exhibition space set in picturesque grounds.

“Ushaw seems to grow every time something happens, and it has so much potential as a venue,” said Alex. “It’s such a beautiful place with a very special atmosphere and there’s no limit to what it could be. It’s just really exciting to be part of it.”

Alex earns a living as a freelance musician, including giving piano lessons via Skype to pupils worldwide.

He is the first musical director of the Ushaw Chapel Choir and sings with the Durham Cathedral Consort of Singers. He is also a resident of Ushaw.

The recital on Saturday starts at 2.30pm. To find out more about events at Ushaw go to www.ushaw.org.