London’s Cadogan Hall last night witnessed a note in history, as prodigal concert pianist Nick Van Bloss performed two concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra for the first time in 14 years.
An exceptionally gifted pianist, Nick also suffers from a chronic form of Tourettes Syndrome, so severe that he suffers from 40,000 ticks each day, forcing him into a life of isolation, living in a crumbling mansion in Lisbon and playing to no one but himself.
Yet last night, Nick returned to the stage, and t5m’s Catriona Stewart was there:
“Nick had what can best be described as a security blanket which he put between his hands every time he took a break, it appeared he was using it to take out all of his anxiety and stress. During the performance, I was mesmerized by his hands, they were so fluid and his performance seemed effortless.
Perhaps the most moving thing however, was that there were other Tourettes sufferers in the audience. Nick was giving the condition a public face – most people think of Tourettes as shouting profanities, but he has muscle ticks; another woman in the audience raised her arm in the air every few minutes. It gave hope to those who suffer from Tourettes, and showed that you can be extraordinary regardless of what illness you may happen to have
He really was amazing, and when he finished you could have heard a pin drop. People could not believe what they had just heard, after the shock of hearing such beauty there was a huge applause and standing ovation. He came back out four times, the clapping lasted about ten minutes”
Neurological conditions have often been linked to exceptional musical ability- it is often speculated that Mozart suffered from Tourettes, and the well documented mental health problems of Australian pianist David Helfgott were depicted in the film ‘Shine’.