Classical pianist Fiachra Garvey is taking a break from helping out on the family farm to put the final touches to the organisation of the West Wicklow Chamber Music Festival which will take place from May 17 to 21.

`’This vibrant spring programme is awash with incredible artists, featured in a vast array of musical partnerships from duos, trios and quartets right up to larger orchestral ensembles. There is genuinely something for everyone here, if not we’ll give you your money back,” quipped Fiachra, festival founder and artistic director.

The London-based concert pianist who grew up on a farm at Ballyknockan at the foot of the Moanbane mountains on the Blessington Lakes in Co. Wicklow, has found a kindred spirit in another performer at the festival.

He will partner with violinist Patrick Rafter at Russborough on Wednesday, May 17 at 8:00p.m at a sold out event.

“I’ve known renowned Patrick for as long as I can remember, from our days at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and later the Royal Academy of Music in London,” Fiachra explained.

“As well as sharing a love of music, we both come from very similar rural backgrounds, so many of our conversations would span from Beethoven to Belgian Blue cattle.”

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Patrick and Fiachra will spend the month of June as artists in residence at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

“So much of our programme has a French inspiration, along with Irish and Italian flavours too. I’m particularly thrilled that the festival has commissioned the phenomenally versatile composer Conor Linehan to write a new suite for violin and piano, which will be premiered in this concert,” Fiachra continued.

Also performing will be Jess Gillam. “Jess has taken the music world by storm since rising to fame after her appearance in the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year,” Fiachra said.

“I got to know Jess in London when I was invited to appear on her hugely popular show on BBC3 ‘This Classical Life.

“I’m so excited that Jess will be making her Irish debut and performing twice at the festival, in trio formation with Sam Becker (bass) and Leif Kaner-Lidström (piano) on Thursday, May 18 at Russborough in a sold out concert, as well as with her widely praised Jess Gillam Ensemble on Saturday, May 20 at 8:00p.m in the marquee at Russborough’s Hippodrome.

“Jess and her colleagues present programmes of great musical variety, from J.S. Bach to Chilly Gonzales and everything in between. Jess will also give a masterclass to some of Ireland’s brightest saxophonist stars of the future during the festival,” Fiachra added.

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“Our Rising Stars concert features one of the most exciting flute talents to come out of Ireland in recent years in Amy Gillen who will team up with pianist Frasier Hickland on Saturday, May 20 at 4:00pm,” Fiachra said.

“There will be activities beforehand, including face-painting and other merriment, to get everyone in the mood before the party begins,” the Wicklow-born classical pianist added.

Another Irish debut is on the cards for Apollo 5, who bring the festival to a close on Sunday, May 21 at 3:30p.m in St Mary’s Church, Blessington.

As part of the world famous Voces8 Foundation, the group showcase the voice in all its glory with no gimmicks or distractions, just pure unaccompanied vocal purity and beauty.

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“Travelling constantly worldwide, it is a great honour to have Apollo 5 with us in Wicklow and the programme they have in store is really one to soothe the soul, bringing classical and popular favourites together, delivered in their unique and distinctive way. Not to be missed and a perfect end to a magical few days of music,” Fiachra said.

The concerts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights are now sold out, but tickets are still available for the weekend concerts.

“All is going well on the farm. We’re through lambing now and it’s great that the spring growth is coming along nicely,” the classical pianist said.

The Garveys farm 70ac including commonage and Fiachra has helped out on the farm as long as he can remember. His sister, Niamh, a Paris-based barrister is also passionate about farming.

Farming is therapeutic, Fiachra finds. “I guess because it’s so different to playing the piano. I find the complete change of environment refreshing and relaxing.

“There are days when I could just sit down the fields, looking over the Blessington Lakes for hours.

“It’s nice to be out in the fresh, healthy and unpolluted countryside air. It’s the best type of meditation, and a welcome relief from the busy streets of London.”

Before completing a bachelor’s degree in music, Fiachra studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin (UCD). “I absolutely loved veterinary but in my second year realised that if I didn’t give music a proper go then, I would always regret that, so I went back to full-time music,” he said.