Monday, 9 April 2007


I'm now home in Alsemberg and cannot find adequate words to say how much pleasure I gained from the people and country of New Zealand. We managed to raise awareness and a modest amount of money for local MS societies.

Next time - more awareness and more money !!

Nothing would have been possible without the efforts of Auckland MS and Gary McMahon the General Manger and in particular my NZ Coordinator Nicola Garland.

I must also thank those who made the local arrangements and everyone who supported the concerts and made my whole tour a sucess.

Fondest memories and regards to you all






Hi I'm Olga - I play Piano around the world for Multiple Sclerosis Charities
Please look at my website

On 23rd Feb 2007
I set out on my second Mu Sic Tour of 2007 ,
this time to New Zealand.

I went to publicise my Mu Sic Foundation

which raises awaress of Multiple Sclerosis.

This tour was dedicated to my musical idol Jacqueline Du Pre who died of MS 20 years ago.
It is 20 years since the tragic early death of cellist Jacqueline du Pre who died 19th October 1987 from Multiple Sclerosis.

We still have




End of the Journey

03 Apr
Los Angeles Terminal 4 arrived and checked into the Sheraton Gateway to recover from the awful flight.
04 Apr Los Angeles
Rest and check with BA to find out baggage rules - Fantastic - same as Quantas and we linked Brussels flight - so bags will all go direct.
05 Apr 21:20 Los Angeles
Check in OK - left a little late - film selection poor - very old 747 - bit bumpy arived over Northern Ireland and had a bad approach and terrible landing - very light wind but snaked all over the ruinway after smashing into the ground.
06 Apr
Heathrow (London) Terminal 1 awful place - to dock a 747 - all transit opassengers through security - 40 minutes to be processed - as usual not enough staff on - AVOID all BAA airports

17:45 Heathrow to Brussels 19:55 a BA Airbus 319 - nearly empty - flight ok untill approaching Brussels - we had another of those 319 moments a loud crack and the whole aircraft jerks - feels like hitting something - Terrible landing and big swerve - Controlled cracs- Paul says

-One bag missing -

Welcome to the Centre of Europe

Going Home

02 Apr Fly Dunedin Auckland.Lovely airport - very picturesque - A real airplane this time - and a good flight to Auckland except for a terrible approach - very steep turns and Paul said the stalll warning went off - we survived to be met by the now very pregnant - 3 weeks to go - Nicola who took us to the City Life to drop cases - the to MS Auckland to collect the three cases left there two weeks ago.
Big repack - The Quantas rules are 2x32kg and 7 kg hand bag EACH - what will BA in LA say ???
City life again - very comfortable - room upgrade - the staff are very kind
03 Apr Auckland
Lunch at the Viaduct - and views of the docks - Met Gretchen Hamiton of Biogen Idec - sponsors of the local concerts.
At 1530 Auckland Terminal I departed one hour late and Quantas proved that out outbound flight was not an exception - this one was even worse - no hot towels no separate drinks round no answer to the call bells - entertainment system was faulty - snack issued immediately after meal no landing cards till 30 min before landing last meal served at 50 mins before arrival - Sullen rude cabin crew.

Otago Marama Hall Recital

01 Apr

10 am Master Class - Happy to meet Jonathon a student of Terence who iusm the Nephew of the Gay the National President of NZ MS

3 pm Recital at the old Marama hall Otago University 2 Piano 4 Hands with Terence Dennis

Early Rachmaninoff - Fantasy Tableau Op 5, the un-opused Russian Rhapsodie also a 2 piano version of the Paul Pabst Concert Paraphrase of Tchaikovsky Opera Eugene Onegin.

I can find no records of public performance of 2 of these pieces.

The WORLD PREMIERS IN OTAGO go quite well - very enthuseastic audience.


27 Mar

First rehearsal total disaster with Eugene Onegin - having learn all the notes - I simply cannot easily only play half of them. Have to concentrate.
28 Mar
Rehearsal and Rest. We are going to play "Sugar Plum Fairy" for an encore - with Italian Polka.
29 Mar
Rehearsal and Rest
30 Mar
We cancelled the visit to Invercargil as its a 4 hour drive each way and both of us are getting a cold. Penguin and Albatross hunting - no luck - cloud on the ground.

31 Mar
Albatross hunting - Cloud on the ground - Impossible.

But the rest of Dunedin is bright and sunny.

Finally get to Good internet Cafe - got mail

Off to Caversham to find the Southlands MS Society and Margaret the field officer. We find Paul's double - another Paul 'Paardekooper'


27 Mar

Up early again to drive to Timaru and MS South Canterbury for tea with Fiona at 1130

Mount Cook still in Cloud but more urgent to get to a piano as I’m getting concerned that I have a mountain of Russian Notes to climb. The brief stop in Timaru is interesting as the MS Society there occupy a building bequeathed to them some years ago by Nancy Budd an MS sufferer.

Finally reached Dunedin and the Allen Court Motel just a few minutes from the University. Beautiful spotless 2 room suite with spa bath.

South Canterbury

26 Mar

Leave to drive to Dunedin via Mt Cook –
Met with Canterbury MS and Parkinson Association fantastic model for MS support – as all neurologicals share one building and therapy facilities. With the umberlla of NZ Neurological Foundation and local person Cecily

Another mini disaster left my Beneton furry jacket in the Motel and were are off to the cold Mountains.

Long drive desolate country and big disappointment Mt Cook is in cloud – but we drive along the NZ “Belamor Canal” a gigantic engineering feat.

Finally arrive a Makenzie Units Hotel in Twizel hoping for better weather in the morning. Nice room very average food.

Train To Greymouth

25 Mar Sunday

What an anti climax – yes the trip is spectacular in places - the access to the viewing platform is difficult and nearly all the views are blighted or obstructed by cables or safety guards. Food on the train is not up to normal NZ standard.

The diesels are also filthy to the point of being a health hazard – really not worth the trip – far better to drive it.

Don’t bank on getting any movie from the train.

Wellington Picton Ferry

23 Mar

Up early and sad to leave this beautiful place for a four hour drive to Wellington to hand in the hire car, meet the National MS office crew and collect my Rachmaninoff Scores which I left in Auckland. Stayed at the 747 Motel - OK

24 Mar

Another Early start at 8am for Wellington Picton Ferry but surprise, another Russian Taxi driver.

Its blowing a hooley outside the harbour but big plus, the bags are checked through to Christchurch.
Paul films the Marlborough sound and the Senic Train Journey.

Pleasant surprise the bags are there – and a quick shuttle to the Riccerton Village Motel in preparation for the day return trip to Greymouth and the Trans Alpine rail journey tomorrow.

Hastings Concert

22 Mar Napier Hastings Recital
Once again, it was not a big audience, but a very musical and friendly one.
At the interval Paul says that the Priest, who gave use of the Church to the MS Society, was simply shining after the C major Prelude Tocatta and Largo which I imagine as creation.
I think he enjoyed the images. At the end of the concert, my last MS event, another standing ovation.

Hawkes Bay

19 Mar
Cancelled trip to Mt Egmont, Lake Taupo and Gisbourne.

Management decision is to go straight to Hawkes Bay and take R and R for 3 days to swim in the Pacific.

We drove direct to Napier and find the concert is in Hastings – Im glad as I was not inspired by the Art Deco fa├žade of Napier – the sea looks inviting.

20 Mar
We found a Motel close to the venue and settled in for a few days relaxation to discover that this part of Hawkes Bay is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.

We swim at Ocean Beach sight see and shop – all very theraputic !

21 Mar We drive up Te Mata peak and swim on Waimarama Beach – surrounded by lifestyle !! The latest real estate fad in NZ.

I have a little rehearsal – the piano is small but OK for the lovely new church which is arranged in the round. The programme will be more Bach – the setting is quietly inspiring.

Palmerston North

17 Mar We settle in and relax – having lunch with Gay and the team, Noel, Helen, Martin amazing the ageless tireless Ethel –

The performance is to be a joint one with Amy Hunt a local singer and some of her friends. We met any for a drink to arrange the programme and decide to do two joint numbers. Unchained Melody and Titanic

18 Mar Sunday
Palmerston North Concert - The theatre is amazing – a 1930 Regent Theatre restored a few years ago to it full glory. A modern stage and two Steinways.

Danny is an MS patient who sings.

Amy is a teacher of performing arts and her friends include.
She has a big voice and great stage presence – it fun working with her.

We run through at 1 pm and return for the performance at 4 pm.

It goes very well – I really enjoy the mixed genre and the energy the other performers bring now no back pains

I'm really enjoying things but I am tired.

Good Morning TV

16 Mar Fly to Wellington
Stewart so kindly got up to drive us to the airport to get the Wellington flight.

Met at 730 by NZ TV car and driven to the studio where I am expected to play live on TV at 8am !!! Make up and a 2 minure introduction to a white piano called a Challon bathed in green and red light – 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ACTION - I play Jackie Opus 20 badly !!!

But it couldnot have been too bad, as I was scheduled to play twice more – draw the Nappie prize and close the show – so ends my first live TV performance

–In the green room at NZ TV we met "Bob the Builder" - Keith Chapman who was promoting “Fifi” his latest creation.
Hearing my Jackie opus 20 he revealed he knows Jackie Du Pre's nice. Strange coincidence.

No time for analysis as we are straight back into Wellington to Rent a Dent cars and a drive to Palmeston North.
Incidentally we hired 3 cars from Rent a Dent and are convinced they should run Air New Zealand customer service. Palmersaon North has a reputation as being “different” and the most boring town in NZ – Sure the drive was longand uneventful – and the town appears like Texas without hats and boots – A large new Novatel seems a bit incongruous until one realizes that this is the centre of the North Island and a University Town

Marlborough MS Society

15 Mar Blenheim 6pm
Up late and missed breakfast at 0930 just beginning to realise that Kiwis get up early. Lunch with the Marlborough MS Crowd and a quick rehearsal before the gig.

This recital is a special event for two reasons - first the wine !! and secondly there is a special Steinway in the Brancott Winery visitors centre. This instrument is one that Rachmaninoff played. I prepared a special treat with the early romantic works 1891-06 of the young Sergei .

The instrument is the property Marlborough City and many persons have helped me to arrange the events. At Montana, Kathy Hughes Manager of the Brancott Visitors centre gave the venue free for the MS society.

Wine was terrific bought 2 boxes to be shipped to Paul’s kids in UK .

The piano – is an enigma – there is no double strike, three pedals and art neuveau legs and a number of 584 – our first reaction was it’s a forgery and a legend – then Paul got on his back underneath – and it appears it is a very early piano being all hand tool finished underneath with 584 stamped into the frame.

Maybe the pedals and lyre were replaced . The sound is lovely and the sound board and frame are in perfect condition and it bears ther signature of Dame Myra Hess.

–I have to find out more – it can easily be the Queens Hall piano that broke Rachmaninoff’s enforced performance silence from 1897-1898

Being neither fish nor fowl – the instrument requires a patient and coaxing approach – having defeated a number of previous keyboards masters!

Away too quickly - I fly off early for TV interview in Wellington at 6am

After the Storm

14 Mar
Drive to Auckland for a 1440 flight to Blenheim - Flight Cancelled – Replacement flight delayed – Air New Zealand are vying with Qantas as worst airline of the southern hemisphere - Due to the irregular nature of the operation we decide to build in a buffer for our departure in April and move our last internal flight forward 24 hours. Changing the flight cost a fortune and allowed Air New Zealand to become undisputed Champions of the Customer dis-service award of 2007.
We finally arrived in Blenheim six hours late, fortunately the Flight Crew were more competent that their management and we had a reasonable flight through horrendous weather to be met by Stuart and be driven a nice hotel, part of the Scenic Group.


12 Mar Drive to HamiltonWe met the Rotorua MS Crowd, John, Heather Mike and Elllen for morning tea before a dash to Hamilton for Lunch with Janet Graham Bill Caroline Liz Deb and Mark .What a lovely City along the river. Here in the peace of the Novotel we regroup to play what must be one of the best chamber halls in the world, better than Philadelphia.
The beautiful Gallaher Concedrt Chamber has light spacious foyer overlooking its lake through gigantic picture windows. The hall is warm and intimate with perfect acoustic. I am promised that there is a good Steinway.
An evening visit with Graham and his wife – we inflicted my Pabst Concerto DVD on them , my antics caused great enjoyment – The heavens opened on the way back to the hotel and we wandered around the railway sidings in torrential rain, finally reaching the Novatel.

13 Mar I discovered that the Concert for Northlands at Whangerei, that I cant remember ,must have been OK. Because Pauls Cousin Bob and wife Ceclity wife had driven the 300 km to Hamilton for the concert which proved that Radio NZ Steinway matches its lovely surroundings.
I was drunk with emotion – so much that I cannot remember the performance except that I was very happy – I’m told it went very well – I guess the film will show .


11 Mar SUN Drive to RoratuaOff again to Rotorua – to stay in a smart Boutique Hotel – Princes Gate, which unfortunately did not have air conditioning to combat the sulphuric atmosphere. But I played for my dinner.
It rained so no hot springs simply a visti to Governemtn Gardens and hasty cup of tea with the MS Society.


09 Mar Auckland Drive to TaurangaOff again to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, beautiful drive, nearly empty roads and a swim in the Pacific continues my rehabilitation of my back – Supper with Dianne and the Bay of Plenty team, Rosemary , Janette and Maz

10 Mar Bay of Plenty -The concert venue was the charming Village hall in the Tauranga Historic Village – a very intimate and friendly affair and a meeting with the Patron Neurologist, a man with unresponsive mirror neurones.Then a big mistake, eating a Big Mac at midnight – indigestion and no sleep !

Auckland Recital

08 Mar Auckland 7.30 PM Recital

The team at MS Auckland had done a great job and were very organised. I enjoyed the concert very much, as the Bach Busoni Organ Transcription worked so well in the wonderful church.

Auckland Univertsity

07 Mar AucklandA little rehearsal in the warm and friendly cathedral – back is a little better but still on painkillers. A little shopping and a Master class at Auckland University with the students of Professor Tamas Vestas. The gentle seduction of the predominantly Chinese students towards a more romantic view of piano performance was a success.


05 Mar Whangarei The following morning we left with Paul’s Cousin Bob and his wife Cecily to visit his daughter Louise on the farm near Dargaville.
I had a fantastic day surrounded by 5 children, 160 cows, 40 sheep, 2 goats a rabbit and a frustrated Bull – a wonderful family.
We also visited a forest reserve and the fantastic 90 mile beach which is a public road, with road signs.
A swim in the Tasman sea, off Omamari beach, started the recovery of my back. In also swam in the Kaiiwi lakes and walked in the Kaihu Forest among the ancient ferns and giant trees.

06 Mar We set out to drive to Auckland for the Trinity Cathedral recital - and back to the Heritage Hotel City Life, a great hotel who supported the MS Cause and all were so helpful and kind -

Whangarei Concert

03 Mar Whangarei We stayed with Barbara the Northlands MS president in her beautiful house on the cast north of Whangarei. After a relaxing day we had supper with Gay the National President and we discovered we had left my Treatment in Los Angeles - this disaster combined with severe back pain rendered me in worst possible performance state.04 Mar SUN 2pm - Afternoon Whangarei - RecitalMy back was still wrecked and I can’t remember much of the concert as I was so heavily dosed with painkillers. It appears that the concert was a success and after. We all went for a meal after.

Auckland Media Day

02 March MEDIA DAY AUCKLAND The first morning in Aucland dawned and I spent the entire day in Radio and TV studios with the odd journalist interview thrown in. Finally escaping at 4pm we set out for Whangarei, the location of my first concert. We called in at Pauls cousin for a quick hello and continued to drive till dark to find our destination just below the Manaia Heads

Arrival Auckland

27 Feb 20:30 Los Angeles Terminal B
Checking in was the beginning of a disaster – It appears no-one in Quantas was aware of the new BA baggage rules. We ended up checking in the hand baggage as the Quatas allowance in 7 kg - when BA operate a size but no weight limit. Cheecking the weight of my carry on case, it weighed 4 kilos empty! The weight was the least of worries – the seat pitch was microscopic and the cabin crew simply lazy the food indescribable, the most awful flight I have taken since the Soviet Aeroflot days.

01 Mar 06:00 Auckland Terminal
We arrived in Auckland in to very comfortasble be met by Nicola Garland who had been coordinating everything for 6 months. Janning all the luggage in was a challenge but we arrived at the Heritage City Life in Auckland centre – for a very comfrotable night except for a fire alarm at 2am which meant a 22 floor stairway exit and 40 minutes in the street surrounded by guests and fire engines.

Los Angeles

24 FEB Leave London for Los Angeles
As we left Brussels the airport recieved a bomb threat, so after checking, rather than go to the gate we went to the street for an hour. We eventually left an hour late very cold and stressed – to overnight with Paul’s sister.Back to Heathrow at 9am for a Termina1 1 departure for USA – chaos but a little routine "invalid assistance " from BAA made the departure on BA a smooth affair even though we left an hour late due to baggage problems. The flight was quick, due to tailwinds and we arrived in LA on schedule. Again a little routine assistance gave us a smooth arrival. I was so glad for the smooth travel as my back and shoulder were in chronic condition and the prospect of 8 concerts was quite difficult to contemplate.

25 FEB The hotel in LA was Beverly Hills Plaza on Wilshire Boulevard, quite accidentally we had arrived on Oscars weekend but we didn’t try to get close. This my first visit to LA and Beverly Hills simply took my breath away, such beautiful houses with flowers everywhere, with the lawns cut like bowling greens.

26 FEB Los Angeles UCLAOn the Monday morning we went to see Marco Iacobi who heads the Functional MRI research at UCLA. He is a specialist in Mirror Nurones and we discussed the viability of defining a music project to measure the mirror response to music. I am interested in proving with science what is evident from my experience that live performance generates more mirror response than any studio recorded music. I feel that live perfromance has an emotional value that is impossible to create in the studio especially when the editing process breaks the emotional flow.Having not touched my piano for several weeks I was desperate for practice and spent time dashing round Hollywood with a series oif Russian Taxidrivers to get a full 88 key midi keyboard to plug in the computer so that I could take some a physical and mental practice.After four pleasant days the time came for the long haul to Auckland – a thirteen hour flight with BA changing to be operated by Qantas FEB Los Angeles