International pianist Ke Ma to play private concert at York Minster to raise awareness of arts industry's plight

Top pianist Ke Ma is performing a private concert in York Minster to highlight the plight of musicians and the arts during the coronavirus pandemic.

York Minster
York Minster

Chinese-born Ma will play a repertoire including Debussy and Chopin at the famous cathedral on Thursday evening.

The Royal Academy alumna and student at the Guildhall School of Music is hoping to highlight “the sector’s contribution to the economy and our humanity”, the concert organisers said.

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Ma has toured the globe since she made her debut at Wigmore Hall in 2017 and has performed with the Royal Philharmonic.

The private concert, which will be broadcast to audiences online, has been made possible by the Leeds piano firm Besbrode Pianos, which temporarily gifted a £100,000 Wilh Steinberg piano to York Minster while its organ underwent refurbishment.

Besbrode Pianos has supported other community projects in the Yorkshire region , including the loan of a Kawai grand to the Beckett Wing at Leeds’s St James’s University Hospital and gifting an upright piano to train stations and dementia care homes.

Melvin Besbrode, from the firm, said: “We wanted to mark the current plight of musicians. There are no live performances happening right now.

“It’s incredibly sad for audiences as well as musicians.

“We had programmed a number of concerts at York Minster prior to the pandemic, so in lieu of our plans we are thrilled to have secured Ke Ma, who otherwise would have been too busy performing at venues such as the Barbican or Drapers’ Hall. ”

Mr Besbrode said: “This is a poignant moment in history as artists, who spend a lifetime honing their craft, face an existential crisis as their livelihoods are at risk.”

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said: “It’s a thrill to welcome Ke Ma to the Minster and to mark the provenance of the grand piano kindly loaned by Besbrode in the history of the Minster.

“The experience of hearing music in this exceptional setting is powerful and moving.

“In these strange and complicated times, we are pleased to help showcase how integral music and the arts are to us emotionally and spiritually, perhaps more so now than ever before.”

Ke Ma’s performance will be made available on