“Historic occasions” are often a bit of an exaggeration. However, it was a perfectly apt description of the 21st April 2016 for this piano player…
On 21st April 2016, Joe was invited to Windsor Castle to play for the Royal Family and a few close friends for the Queen’s 90th private birthday party. It was an intimate and confidential affair but it is giving no secret away to say Joe was made to feel completely at home by the Royal Family, and was given the opportunity to wish Her Majesty a very happy birthday and to chat with Prince Charles and Prince Harry. “The Royal Family were the best hosts ever! And I got to shake the hand of the country’s longest reigning monarch.”
Over the years, Joe has worked in many primary and secondary schools. He is passionate about getting young people playing, practising and improvising. Joe concentrates on the basic principles of contrast (light and shade, loud and soft), rhythm and basic performance skills in order to encourage young musicians to get the most out of their music and to enable them share it more effectively with other people. These Blackheath Conservatoire dates offer youngsters and their parents a chance to hear top London jazz musicians up close and learn how they got where they are today.
27 November 2016 – Mark Armstrong on trumpet, Robert Rickenberg on bass
For more details visit www.conservatoire.org.uk
“Joe Thompson, who is a former pupil of King Edwards School, has worked with us in a variety of ways in recent times. On two occasions he has run workshops with some of our musicians during the day and then put on a concert in the evening. These occasions have been spectacular successes. He has shown the players things about their playing that they did not know and, in a very short space of time, taken them somewhere new. The concerts have been a joy not least because of the energy and enthusiasm that Joe shows and his deep rapport with the boys. Joe has brought delight and knowledge in equal measure to this school and he works brilliantly with children of a range of ages. He is a star and a gem.”
John Claughton, Chief Master
King Edward’s School, Birmingham
On 26th April 2016 Joe performed Rhapsody in Blue for an audience of two thousand in one of the best concert halls in the UK. It is 29 years since Joe last performed his favourite concert piano piece.
“If you want to hear me do it again, you’ll have to wait another 29 years” says Joe, “it was an amazing feeling, and the audience were fantastic, but I don’t know how these concert pianists do that night after night. So much respect!”
This informal Blackheath Conservatoire session is all about the music. Come see if you have ‘big ears’, as Joe and his fellow musicians play you the best in jazz and show you how it’s done – just like they’ve done at The Ivy Club the night before!
Perfect for aspiring young musicians, or families who want some quality musical time together. This really is some of the best jazz in town, and when you pair it with an espresso from our café, makes for the hippest family scene around.
This session will see us joined by Lizzie Deane – a soul, funk and blues songstress with a deeply soulful voice that emulates the sweet melodic and raw belting lines associated with the classic divas. With her warm persona and infectious performance style Lizzie contemporises her musical influences, that include Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Jacksons, Etta James, Stevie Wonder & Otis Reading. Along with Joe Thompson on piano and Robert Rickenberg on bass, Lizzie will be demonstrating some different styles and techniques and sharing with our local young singers some of the tricks of the trade.
February 2016 saw Joe once again entertaining the Royal Family. The venue this time was St James’s Palace, playing through dinner and also accompanying the fabulous opera singer, and member of the Royal Opera House’s young artist programme, Lauren Fagan singing Puccini, Catalani and Gershwin.
On 18 October, (and again on 29 November) Joe will be resuming his jazz trio sessions for young musicians at the Blackheath Conservatoire. As usual Joe will be looking at “opposites” in performance and featuring proper grown-up jazz examples in attempt to encourage performers of any age to get the most out of their instruments and the best out of themselves. Tickets £10 and £5.
More here: http://www.conservatoire.org.uk/Events/Joe-Thompson-s-Primary-Jazz-194.aspx/
At 7pm on December 6th at London’s famous Crazy Coqs cabaret room, Jessie Buckley will be taking time out from performing in A Winter’s Tale (with Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench) for a long awaited reunion with Joe Thompson. Since they first got together around the piano in the Ivy Club the two have performed many sell-out concerts but since Jessie’s acting career took off their performances are few and far between. With Chris Cobbson on guitar and Robert Rickenberg on double bass this reunion of friends should be very special indeed.
On 25 April 2016 Joe will be revisiting George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, this time with the swing band of his old school King Edward’s School (KES) Birmingham.
“To return to my home town and to perform Rhapsody in Blue in one of the most prestigious venues in the country will be an absolute treat” says Joe.
Unfortunately, since this is a school event to mark the retirement of the current chief master, tickets are not available from the Symphony Hall Box office.
The Blue Drawing Room as seen from Joe’s piano (image taken from Buckingham Palace’s website) was the stunning setting for a 70-strong dinner hosted by the Prince of Wales on June 11 2015. The event was to celebrate the Prince’s Drawing School and the school said they were glad to have an artist as well as a musician playing the piano.
The Prince’s Drawing school (Previously the Royal Drawing School) helps young artists overcome difficulties and develops their skills by giving them intensive drawing tuition. At the Palace dinner, Joe was most struck by a struggling art graduate who had been drawing on grease-proof paper behind a chip shop counter when he received the text that he had been accepted into the prince’s Drawing School. A life-changing moment.
Joe is pictured playing the Groucho Club’s Peter Blake piano in the Blackheath gallery on their opening night (May 1st 2015). A big thank you to the Groucho club for lending me their prized piano, signed by Sir Peter Blake, for the night. It stole the show!! Joe is hoping to exhibit his own work at the gallery later this year, so was very happy to play a part in their opening night.