Young Longford pianists keys to success

by Patrick Conboy

Peter Regan

The great composer Robert Shumann once said, “play always as if in the presence of a master.” It’s sound advice for any musician, and it’s the way one young pianist from Lanesborough in County Longford is approaching his craft.

Peter Regan has been playing the piano since the age of eight and the Leaving Cert student has remained dedicated to his studies ever since, as his rigorous training schedule attests.

“I practice for several hours each day,” Peter says of his regimen. “I also had to give up playing the violin so I could focus on the piano. I had to choose between both instruments, and it was a tough decision because I love both. In the end I chose piano because I have been playing it for longer, and also because I prefer the fullness of sound you can achieve with it. With the violin you can only play one line at a time.”

His musical vocation has even influenced his choice of school: “I was attending St Finian’s College in Mullingar but transferred to Wesley College in Dublin after doing my Junior Cert. I wanted to do Transition Year so I could have time to focus on my music for a while, but it wasn’t available in St Finian’s. Wesley is a school with a great tradition in music and has fantastic facilities.”

Overseeing Peter’s tuition nowadays is John O’Conor, the Professor of Piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, who is also known for his masterclasses and guest lectures at many of the world’s leading musical institutions, as well as being an internationally-acclaimed concert pianist himself. It’s a golden opportunity, the magnitude of which is not lost on the aspiring virtuoso. “I’m really lucky to be able to study under him”, he admits. “He has been a huge influence on me and I would really like to follow in his footsteps, and I hope to go on to do a BA in Performance under him after the Leaving Cert.”

Peter’s prospective career as a concert musician received yet another boost this summer when he attended the presigious Aspen Music Festival & School in the USA. And at his mentor’s suggestion, he raised funds for the trip by hosting a performance at St John’s Church of Ireland in Longford town, where he played alongside both O’Conor and violinist Phoebe White. “There was a great turnout on the evening”, he says of the concert. “It was just the right size, the acoustics were wonderful and it was a warm, personal space in which to perform.”