THE PIANIST was well into the notoriously hard-to-play piano composition when concert-goers noticed a balloon eerily descending towards him.
The late-afternoon light streaming into the concert hall of the ancient Sutton House in Hackney gave the spectre what looked like two eyes and a cheeky smile.
The pianist tried to ignore it, playing his way through the 30 pieces of the 80-minutes-long masterpiece. But eventually Fitch could take the distraction no more and pushed the bouncy balloon towards a fan in the front row, where it sat, trapped like a naughty child.
Chatting after the show, Fitch, who performs and teaches around the world, revealed that the interruption of the ghostly balloon, probably a leftover from a party at the venue, had personal and disturbing significance: when he was a child he had been forced to sit on balloons that were then popped beneath him.
The balloon was coloured similarly to the shirt he wore for the recital at the mansion, which was built in 1535 for a courtier of Henry VIII. Now in the care of the National Trust, the Tudor building sits a few hundred metres from a collection of gravestones in a crumbling churchyard.
David Altheer 270318
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