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Two great artists meet in middle

Yantra de Vilder and David Helfgott have performed to sell-out concerts on the Central Coast and Dubbo.
Yantra de Vilder and David Helfgott have performed to sell-out concerts on the Central Coast and Dubbo.

IT all started in the Northern Rivers, or Bangalow to be precise.

Concert pianist David Helfgott (think 'Shine') is the patron of The Buttery drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre and a few years ago in conjunction with composer Yantra de Vilder, gave a benefit concert to raise funds for The Buttery.

Fast forward to today and things have taken off for the musical duo.

They have almost completed their first regional tour, with sell-out concerts in Avoca on the Central Coast and in Dubbo in the West of the state.

Byron Bay is the last stop on the tour at the Byron Bay Community Centre on March 17 and 18.

"The Buttery concert was our first concert together," says Yantra, "but the seeds for the tour were planted when I managed to help get my local theatre in Avoca a grand piano. I thought it would be great to get David along for the official opening concert. He stayed with us and we had a lot of discussions about the fact that he's always wanted to compose - and that was something I could help him with."

In some ways, it is not the most obvious pairing. Helfgott is a classically trained virtuous concert pianist with a huge international reputation; his next European concert is in Vienna to an estimated 40,000 people.

Yantra, who has worked in the music industry for many years is a composer for film, TV and radio, composes her own music, and loves nothing more than improvising on the spot.

"It's virtuosic structure meets unbridled freedom," Yantra says cheerfully.

The meeting in the middle of these two very different performers produces some amazing results, delighting everybody who sees them. (And it's here that I must make a confession - five years ago Yantra asked if she could use a series of my abstract photographs as a slide projection for her music, and they have now become an integral part of her half-hour session.)

After Yantra's performance, entitled The Art of Nature, David plays from his classical repertoire, and then, as Yantra describes it: "We have a unique collaboration - where classical meets contemporary."

Yantra's commitment to musical creativity has resulted in her using her collaboration with Helfgott as part of her doctoral thesis, entitled Intersection. Her next live show, Latitude 33, explores through music, dance and performance those places on Latitude 33 - Chile, South Africa, Sydney and the Central Coast being among them.

Both performers love the idea of regional tours.

"I think for David, doing huge concerts in Europe is exciting but he is always alone. For me it's a privilege to be on stage with him, and for both of us bringing something unique to regional towns is very rewarding."

Tickets are on sale now for this Saturday and Sunday's performances - $49/$43, available at the Byron Bay Community Centre phone: 6685 6807

Topics:  david helfgott, the buttery drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre


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