A phone rang during Hayato Sumino's pin-drop Royal Albert Hall solo – and he duetted with it… – Classic FM

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Cello Concerto No.1 in C major (3) Joseph Haydn
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Hayato Sumino
25 April 2024, 20:15 | Updated: 26 April 2024, 08:45
Hayato Sumino’s moment of phone duet genius | Classic FM
By Kyle Macdonald
The piano world’s new star proves his musical creativity in a genius response to a mobile phone, during an intimate Gershwin solo.
Japanese pianist Hayato Sumino is known for his viral piano creations and improvisations on YouTube – but a moment to showcase his quick, creative musical mind happened at the Royal Albert Hall during Monday night’s Classic FM Live.
The 2021 Chopin Piano Competition semifinalist has quickly created a cult following, both online and in the concert hall. He took the stage to play George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with our Orchestra in Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Ben Palmer.
Mobile phones ringing during quiet concerts now seem a common occurrence. When a phone notification or alarm sounds during a quiet moment of music-making, musicians and audience members will sometimes respond with sighs or accusatory stares across the concert hall.
During an improvised solo cadenza passage of Hayato’s Royal Albert Hall debut, an audience member’s phone started ringing. Watch how he responded in the video above.
Read more: When 26-year-old Hayato Sumino caused a competition sensation with his shining Chopin solo
Where other musicians might think disruption or intrusion, Hayato heard a musical opportunity. With characteristic deftness, and without missing a beat, you can hear the pianist incorporate the ringtone sound in his improvisation.
In a sage musical reply to the mobile phone, he plays a bell-like trill in the upper register of the piano and then lower in the piano, before he continues his improvised interlude.
As the deep, composed and consummate musician he is, there was not even a raised eyebrow from the performer. Just look at the first violinist behind him – she knew exactly what he was doing and the musical creativity on show in that moment.
“It’s in a musician’s nature to instinctively react to the sounds that they hear around them – even when making their Classic FM Live/Royal Albert Hall debut,” Hayato told us afterwards.
The night’s conductor Ben Palmer was a fan too, saying: “One of my favourite moments of Classic Live last night was when a mobile phone rang in the middle of Rhapsody in Blue. Instantly our incredible soloist Hayato Sumino copied it, incorporating it seamlessly into his improvisation.”
The unlikely duet was just one moment of an incredible Gershwin performance that was full of creativity, energy, emotion and musical alchemy. You can hear the performance in full, as part of our exclusive broadcast of Monday night’s Classic FM Live.
After the mighty symphonic crashes that end Rhapsody in Blue, the audience at the Royal Albert Hall roared in ovation, with many leaping to their feat.
In the huge 5,000-strong audience, not all would have heard the phone, or known of the subtle response – but everyone heard the pianist’s deep musical talent ring out loud and clear.
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