The Re-Connection Of Ruth McGinley
BBC Proms in the Park NI | Saturday 10 Sep 2016
By Stacy Fitzpatrick
This year’s BBC Proms In The Park in Belfast will have a special significance for Derry-Londonderry born pianist Ruth McGinley. On Saturday 10 September, Ruth will be performing in front of an audience of 11,000 people at Titanic Slipways in Belfast.
Not only will it be her first Proms In The Park appearance, but it will also be a special milestone of the 22 year relationship Ruth has had with BBC throughout her musical career.
“To be asked to play Proms in The Park for the first time is really huge. I was actually really emotional about it because I thought I would never play a concert on my own.
“I’ve done lots of work in an accompanied role with BBC Radio Ulster for the last number of years so to be back as a soloist… I feel very supported by the BBC. They’ve been great. It’s lovely to have that relationship with them. It feels like home to me with the BBC guys.”
BBC Proms in The Park Belfast will be Northern Ireland’s celebratory party to close the end of the UK wide Proms season in which multiple regions across the UK host their own party alongside the main Last Night Of The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This year’s Proms In The Park features an impressive line up. Broadway icon John Owen-Jones, the longest serving lead of Phantom Of The Opera and notably acclaimed most recently for his Les Miserables performance and the warm hearted, formidable soprano Lesley Garrett will be joining Ruth at the Titanic Slipway.
“ It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve done since the BBC Young Musician Of The Year.” admits Ruth.
“Just to be there and be myself and hopefully have a little bit of fun with it, I’m really looking forward to it. It will be a great night. Proms In The Park is very much about the people coming out and having a great time, bringing their picnics, their wine…” she enthusiastically muses.
Ruth entered the spotlight as winner of the piano final at the BBC Young Musician Of The Year in 1994, catapulting her into the world of classical music professionally. The nationwide competition saw a young Ruth scooped into a whirlwind of professional work in London.
“Carrying on from being a successful young musician to being an adult musician doesn’t always run smoothly. For me it didn’t run smoothly. So I think it can be too much pressure too young. I was always in the competitive side of music, I did feel for me it was too much and it pulled the love out it for me. And I always knew that I loved playing the piano but it seemed that it was always up against other people, or you were never good enough. And I was only a young girl.”
Ruth returned home retreating from public performing to recover from the burn out of that whirlwind.
“When I decided I wanted to return back home to Derry from London, the BBC were always somebody who invited me along to be part of the overall cast. They’ve really supported me through the last number of years leading up to The Proms.
“Working through myself not as a performer for a number of years and working at myself as a person, brought me to a stage where I chose that I wanted to play again in my way. A little bit more gentle so it wasn’t taking over my entire life again.”
Ruth has now emerged from the solace with an aptly named brand new album, Re-Connection.
“I got an award from the Arts Council to support me to make my solo album. It was very much just a personal project in a way for me of putting down a musical biography of my journey of being young and quite a successful young musician, then taking time out and all the stuff that goes with being a mum…So I just felt it was time to put a bit of my own solo piano.
Throughout her musical career Ruth has been a member of the Ulster Orchestra along with collaborating with other musicians. Through a period of self discovery, she decided that the time was right to stand in her own space as she explains:
“The reason why I made it completely solo piano is that for years I’ve played with other people and my main role was an accompanist and teacher so I just wanted to strip it right back to myself.
“I have no expectation of it being successful, you know, in fairness what does that mean…? But just to have a recording of myself to hand my father…just one CD. Because I know he’s always wanted to have a recording from me.”
The album has been remarkably well received since it’s release, with airplay from Classic FM and RTE Lyric FM. An unintentional happening from Ruth’s perspective.
“I’ve been really blessed with the response from it. So for just putting myself out there that little bit…the response has been amazing. People have been so so lovely.”
On what she is looking forward to about the upcoming special Proms night Ruth says cheerily “Oooh…getting dressed up is a part of it! I’ve been very lucky to have Belfast designer Chloe Duggan, she will be making one of my outfits.
“And also to have a bit of fun with the whole package of the night really. There’s going to be a lot of people there, the buzz will be amazing and having my family there. It will be a big occasion for us all.
“I feel really really lucky that I’m going to be there next Saturday.”
BBC Proms in the Park in Northern Ireland will be hosted by Noel Thompson and Claire McCollum. All free tickets for the event at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast have been allocated however extracts from the Belfast concert will be shown across the UK on BBC One and BBC Two on the night.
BBC Radio Ulster will also be live throughout the evening from the Titanic Slipways with presenter John Toal. Its coverage begins at 7.30pm.
Viewers will also be able to watch selected highlights from the Belfast concert online at www.bbc.co.uk/proms and on the BBC Red Button.
BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Four network will also broadcast a television highlights programme shortly after the event in September.
In addition to the live radio coverage and Red Button highlights, you can feel like you are right there with the specially designed Proms In The Park Companion and learn about the guests performing on the night.
What’s The Score?
Get the Proms in the Park at promslive.bbc.co.uk
Audiences can enhance their BBC Proms in the Park in Northern Ireland experience this year with a specially-designed ‘Companion’ which will deliver fascinating musical facts live as the concert unfolds.
From discovering what inspired a composer to pen their magnum opus to what makes an aria an aria, then the Proms in the Park Companion is full of information to help deepen the experience of the concert. Whether audiences are enjoying the music at the event at Titanic Slipways on Saturday evening (10 September) or listening in at home on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle, this guide to BBC Proms in the Park will take them to the heart of the music.
The Proms in the Park Companion features information about the composers and performers and the techniques they employ, as they take to the stage. Audiences can also share their thoughts and photos of their concert experiences as they soak up the unique atmosphere of the night.
Access the Proms in the Park Companion on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer or internet enabled device by visiting promslive.bbc.co.uk
(This is a free service, but remember your mobile operator may charge for the data you use on their network. If you’re unsure how much 3/4G data costs or what your data allowance is, please contact your mobile network operator.)