The British pianist is touring Australia, has two CDs on release and has written his first novel. As well as discussing the priesthood, he talks to Limelight about dreams, Debussy, Rachmaninov and rentboys.
As a kid in America, you must have been aware of Bernstein long before you came across a score. What was your first intro to his musical world? There were two. I was born in September, 1945 and when I was nine or ten years old, he was on television. There were two conductors who were on television in America. One was Arturo Toscanini and the other one was Leonard Bernstein. Of course, they couldn’t have been more different. But one talked to us, and that was really interesting. I started going to the theatre when I was nine. I had one aunt who took me to Broadway shows and another who took me to the Metropolitan Opera House (she had a son who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in opera, and a husband who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in opera, so she would bring Johnny with her!) I saw the original production of West Side Story, which opened in 1957 when I was 12. I was like a little computer that was just being fired up for the first time, with all of these experiences being entered into my permanent hard drive of memories and experiences. So, I knew