Keys to Life – The Markson Pianos New Interview Series
Each month Markson Pianos interview a key figure who spends their life in the world of music, film or theatre, from those behind the scenes, to those in the lime light, to find out what some of their keys to life are. In January 2024 we had the good fortune of being able to interview Debbie Wiseman, the acclaimed multi award winning and Academy Award nominated composer and pianist.
Debbie good day to you. What do you strive for in life?
To be fulfilled, content and creative.
How does playing the piano make you feel?
I feel absolutely at home when I’m at the piano. It’s my office and it’s also my happy place!
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new project for Christmas 2024 called Jack Frost – it’s a magical story written by Alan Titchmarsh, and I’ve set it to music. It will be premiered on Classic FM in December 2024. I’m also working on Wolf Hall 2 – The Mirror and the Light for the BBC, and series 12 of Father Brown, also for the BBC.
What artists and bands have inspired you and why?
A great many! I love good songwriters, so the Beatles, Elton John, George Michael – to name just a handful of examples – are on the list. In the classical world it’s everything from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy to Messiaen and John Barry, and many others in between!
When you get home and you want to unwind, what kind of music do you usually listen to and why?
I actually don’t usually use music to unwind when I’m working on a project – my unwinding process during those times is all about not listening to music! If I do listen in the occasional downtime that I have available, it’s usually Classic FM – I’m their Composer in Residence, so they’re number 1 on the preset buttons on the radio…
What do you do to get rid of stress?
I love swimming – I find being in the pool and concentrating on each stroke is very calming. I often have composition ideas when I’m in the pool so after I’ve come out and dried myself down I’ll rush to the piano to scribble them down onto my manuscript paper!
What book/s are you currently reading and tell me one thing that you enjoy about it?
I’m reading Robert Hardman’s book Charles III. I was honoured to have been asked to compose two Gospel Alleluias for the King and Queen’s Coronation last May, and it’s fascinating to read Robert’s account of the events leading up to the ceremony. It’s really well written and a fascinating read.
What is the number one kind of music that even a straitjacket wouldn’t hold you back from dancing to?
Probably Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, or Michael Jackson’s Thriller – though almost certainly not with the moves they do in the video…!
What is one of your favourite places to eat, drink and unwind with friends in London and why?
There are so many wonderful places in London it’s hard to choose just one – we’ve been enjoying Nobu in Portman Square recently, and the Chiltern Firehouse is always fun.
What song or piece of music always lifts you up?
I can’t narrow it down to just one piece of music or one song as it changes depending on the day, or my mood – but if I’ve just written a piece of music, or just a melody, the germ of an idea, which I like and which I think will suit the project I’m working on, that’s the biggest lift of all!
Debbie, thank you for sharing some of your Keys to Life.
Photos 1 & 2: Next the piano & portrait photo by Michael Leckie.
Photo 3: In the studio photo by Phil Watkins.
Used with permission.