Ghostly visitor spooks concert as it haunts pianist in ancient mansion near a Hackney graveyard

lGoldberg©DAhover: Graham Fitch’s Goldberg Variations (Bach) recital for Sutton House Music Society Homerton #London © david.altheer@gmali,com 260318
Ghostly guest: the balloon mysteriously appears in the middle of the piano recita
Goldberg©DAballoon: Graham Fitch’s Goldberg Variations (Bach) recital for Sutton House Music Society Homerton #London © david.altheer@gmali,com 260318
Cheeky balloon starts to bob up and down in time with the music

THE PIANIST was well into the notoriously hard-to-play piano composition when concert-goers noticed a balloon eerily descending towards him.

With sinister precision, it stopped above Graham Fitch’s head as he pounded away at JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations then started to bounce up and down in time to the lively music.

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.

Goldberg©DAcandle: Graham Fitch’s Goldberg Variations (Bach) recital for Sutton House Music Society Homerton #London © david.altheer@gmali,com 260318
Old-style: programme for the classical-music recital in the spooked house

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.

Graham Fitch’s Goldberg Variations (Bach) recital for Sutton House Music Society Homerton #London © david.altheer@gmali,com 260318
World performer: Fitch

David Altheer 270318

* Sutton House Music Society presents performances at Sutton House, 2 Homerton High Street, Hackney E9 6JQ, and at St Mary’s old church, Church Street, Stoke Newington N16 9ES.

Goldberg©DAhover: Graham Fitch’s Goldberg Variations (Bach) recital for Sutton House Music Society Homerton #London © david.altheer@gmali,com 260318

* Backstory: Is it a plague pit?; Culture-lovers live in Hackney

* Photographs © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com, and for sale for reproduction. Bigger format versions are usually available.

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