North East Connected

Tees grandfather brings top Ukrainian pianist to NE

A grandfather who was inspired by the talent of a young pianist he discovered on social media has found himself to be a music impresario after persuading her to come and play in the North East.

After bringing up his five children and a career in accountancy, Alan Wilkinson, 73, shunned a retirement in front of the TV to spend more time listening to music.

It was while he was surfing YouTube that he came across a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 played by the Mannheim Philharmonic and a young soloist, Olga Zado.

“I was very impressed by how Olga played with such precision, it was obvious that she knew how important every note was to the score. Also, something that isn’t always obvious with other pianists, she was enjoying what she was doing with a smile regularly crossing her face,” said Alan, of Stockton.

He sent Olga, who is part of the exclusive group of Steinway Artists, a message on Facebook to congratulate her on her playing.

He added: “To my total surprise she replied and subsequently we have become good friends and I have enjoyed finding out all about the life of a professional pianist.”

Olga, who is from Ukraine, received her musical education in Bern, Switzerland, and played her first solo recital aged seven. She has gone on to perform in concerts across Europe, including being invited to play at the new 2,500-seat Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg last November.

Alan decided to take the opportunity to treat himself and go and see her play in person and afterwards was invited to join Olga and some of her friends in the green room.

With no experience in organising or promoting events, Alan invited Olga to come and play in England in June, selecting the Princess Alexandra Auditorium in Yarm as the venue.

“When her positive reply came back it suddenly dawned on me that this was going to happen,” said Alan, whose daughter Rachel has developed an event website for him, 

He added: “There are many problems in life these days, so I want to encourage people to come along, open their minds and hear some truly beautiful music that will leave them with memories of a talented artist who has happily shared her talent with us all here in the North East.”

Olga has also agreed to provide a workshop for some of the young aspiring pianists at Yarm School, while she is in the region.

The concert is on June 16 at 7.30pm. Tickets, at £14 for adults and £8 for children, can be booked at

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