Worbey and Farrell are internationally acclaimed concert pianists and Steinway artists with a wicked sense of humour. They’ve entertained all over the globe with their barnstorming blend of sparky comedy and utterly sensational piano playing and now bring their brand new show to Lighthouse on Thursday 23 March.
Want to know more? Check out our Q&A with the guys ...
You both studied at the Royal College of Music. Did you immediately start working together?
Steven :- No we both had separate careers for many years. I did perform as a concert pianist as part of a duo with Peter Katin who was probably the most recorded artist of his generation, nothing like what I'm doing now but I decided to explore other areas in the arts and ended up acting and doing voice overs for quite some time.
Really? Can I divulge any further? anything interesting?
Steven :- Yes I did the voice of Pod for a children's cartoon called Pod's Mission for the BBC which is played all over the world and I still get royalties today. I was also very lucky to work alongside Ronnie Corbett and Dora Bryan
Two national treasures and what was Ronnie like because you always hope they are going to be nice but sometimes you hear conflicting stories go on spill the beans...
Steven:- No I can reassure you that both of them, particularly Ronnie, was just a delight and totally charming.
Kevin, did you work with anyone interesting before coming up with the act?
Kevin:- Well the nature of our business is that if you are doing it right you will work with a lot of famous artist along the way. My first job after I left the Royal College of Music Was working with Dudley Moore
So it would seem both you and Steven only work with short people?
Kevin :- Not thought of that before as you can see we are both vertically challenged ourselves! Actually a few years ago we were flown over to Chicago for a weekend to do a concert with Mickey Rooney. Just us and Mickey. Mickey is really short so perhaps there is something psychological going on.
This brings me to the next question...what finally brought you together?
Both:- Wine lol!
I think we are owed a little more of an explanation
Steven :- We would meet up once or twice a year and then one afternoon we accidentally locked ourselves in Steven's flat and ended up drinking wine and getting quite drunk. We sat at the piano and discovered that we had a similar style, improvised well together and made each other laugh a lot. One of the main differences about our act is that we are very close and get on very well off stage as well as on. Many double acts don't. We live together, go on holiday together but aren't 'together'. A lot of our comedy comes from a good place and there's no victim - except perhaps the piano!
What's the best thing about your job?
Kevin :- The reaction from the audience, whether it be a gasp or a laugh. We've also traveled to around 147 countries worldwide so have seen some pretty amazing places from Antartica to Svalbard, from Easter Island to Papua New Guinea. We now get respect in a way we never got when we played background music in restaurants or accompanying children's ballet lessons.
Steven;- If I could just add in another thing. The best thing is seeing young kids laughing and enjoying themselves too. Your most honest audience is going to be young people. We were once performing in a festival in Yorkshire and we were in the middle of playing the Swan by Saint Saens when suddenly the piece finishes early as the swan gets shot and there are then feathers everywhere. A young lad who must have been only six could not stop laughing so much that his dad had to put his hand over his mouth. We then got an email from his parents saying that we were the very first show that they'd taken their son to and they could not thank us enough as he adored the show. They thanked us for introducing him to good music. That is the best thing about our job.
You were recently in south Korea what was the audience like? Did they understand you?
Kevin :- The audience were amazing. We had learned a few phrases in Korean which we tried and they were with us from the moment go. They went crazy that we had made the effort to speak a bit of Korean. I think it’s because us Brits are well known for being lazy when it comes to languages so it was very much appreciated. The great thing about performing in Asian countries is their idea of a small venue is a two-thousand seater. So you start off big then you can get (in the words of the recent president of the USA) ‘Yuge'. Our show is very visual as we project the four hands on to a screen so the audience can see the choreography of our hands gliding up and down the keys.
What advice would you give to other musicians starting out?
Both :- Perform as much as you can. Once you can conquer nerves and be yourself on stage then the music and performance will flow. Learn how to effectively practice and rehearse as it's an art in itself. Anyone can sit and think they are working hard for five hours when realistically they have achieved little. Much more can be achieved in an hour of good concentrated work than hours slogging away without thinking. Find what your strengths are and try and see yourself as the audience sees you. Your on-stage persona may not come across as you imagine. When you leave college you may expect too much and if you're not careful you can have an arrogance that you must overcome. There are always many people that more talented than you. People may ask you to audition for various things. You must remember that just because you may have been to the Royal College of Music or somewhere of similar standing doesn't mean you're guaranteed a glowing career.
You have been to over 138 countries. You must have some funny stories to tell?
Kevin :- Many. We were once stranded in Madagascar. We've had a tour of the townships of Soweto. Found ourselves totally lost in Guatemala. We've been to both Antarctica and the North Pole. Sat with natives watching a volcano erupt in Papua New Guinea and were once escorted out of a 25,000 seater stadium in Chicago by the police with Mickey Rooney on that infamous weekend we spent with him.
What are your ambitions?
We love live performance so as long as we can continue to bring in great audiences that love the music and like laughing then we will be very happy. Television is a great medium for gaining 'bums on seats' in theatres so we would like to do more of that. We also have a project in mind for television that we believe could be huge. It is something that we must do before someone else does and will change people’s ideas and perceptions of how things happen in the classical music world. We can't divulge much more at the moment until it has been developed more. The main thing is to keep performing and keep coming up with new ideas. Our arrangements are getting more diverse with our recent arrangements include Bohemian Rhapsody, 1812 Overture and Rhapsody in Blue. We don't ever dumb down the music so when we play a piece it’s not just the famous bits. We give our audience the full meal so keep bringing on more challenges.