Clarence Valley Independent

David Helfgott to Shine at the Saraton

Image Caption: Conductor Greg Butcher & David Helfgott rehearsing at the piano in Bellingen. Image Contributed

Rehearsals have started with international pianist Mr David Helfgott, who will be performing at this year’s Afternoon at The Proms with the Clarence Valley Orchestra at the Saraton Theatre, proudly sponsored by the Bendigo Bank, South Grafton.

David Helfgott was born in Melbourne, spent much of his early life in Perth and showed extraordinary pianistic ability from an early age, winning the state finals of the ABC’s Instrumental & Vocal Competition six times.
At age 17, David began studying with Alice Carrard, a former student of Bartok and Istvan Thoman, himself a pupil of Liszt. Two years later, he left Perth for London to study at the Royal College of Music with Cyril Smith, who described him as his most brilliant student in 25 years of teaching and likened him to Horowitz, both technically and temperamentally.

A period of frequent hospitalization followed during the 1970s, but by 1976 David had moved to a halfway house where he stayed for six years. The greatest crisis for him had been the loss of his inner music, but he remembers the day the music came back: “The fog lifted, I could hear again … I survived.”

David was brought back to the public’s attention by Dr Chris Reynolds, who owned Riccardo’s wine bar in Perth, where he performed on Saturday nights. It was there he met his future wife, Gillian, who, with the support of promoter Mike Parry, helped him gradually resume his concert career with concert performances in Perth and a sell-out tour of Australia’s eastern states in 1986. This was followed by a trip to Europe, with recitals in Germany and Denmark.

David triumphantly returned to an active life of concert-giving and performance, and made a series of CDs, including the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning film Shine, which celebrates his remarkable and inspiring life. David’s recording of the Rachmaninov Third was the number one selling CD in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom for many months. Both attained gold status.

David has been awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of Music by Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and with an Honorary Citizenship from Montecatini Terme in Italy, is an inductee into The Australian Walk of Fame.
This extraordinary artist is continuing to receive the worldwide recognition that his remarkable technical and interpretative genius deserves. His continuing success comes as no surprise to David’s legion of devoted admirers everywhere who have long regarded his recitals as transcending mere music-making and affirming the tenacity of the human spirit.

Seats are filling up fast, so don’t miss this opportunity to hear David Shine at the Saraton Theatre on Sunday October 29 at 2pm. For bookings please call 6642 1633 or book online at

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