Art Voices: Colour Is the Keyboard

25 FEBRUARY 2021 • 6:30 PM GMT
Join broadcaster Katie Derham in conversation with Sotheby's Helena Newman, concert pianist James Rhodes and artist Idris Khan OBE, as they explore the relationships between Music & Art throughout modern history.

Meet the Panel

Helena Newman

Since joining Sotheby’s in 1988, Helena has been at the forefront of the global expansion of the Impressionist and Modern Art market. In addition to her role as Chairman, specialist and business getter, Helena also plays an important role on the rostrum at Sotheby’s. In July 2016, she became the first woman to take an evening sale since 1990, and she remains the only female auctioneer in the business to preside over these prestigious flagship sales. A role model for aspiring female auctioneers, Helena has brought down the hammer on many landmark occasions (in New York in 2018, she brought down the hammer on the highest value work ever sold at Sotheby’s, and she has similarly presided over the highest value sale ever staged in London). As a classically trained violinist, with an innate sense of the performing skills necessary to command a room, Helena is at the vanguard of women in the art world who are blazing the trail in their industry.


James Rhodes

Until the age of 14, James had no formal academic musical education or dedicated mentoring. Aged 18 he stopped playing the piano entirely for a decade. Since returning to the piano, he has released seven albums, all of which have topped the iTunes classical charts.

He has performed in some of the most prestigious venues around the globe, including London’s Roundhouse, The Royal Albert Hall, Teatro Real Madrid, Palau de la Música Barcelona, El Liceu, Musikverein Vienna, Koerner Hall Toronto and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. He has also taken part in major music and book festivals in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, Chicago, Medellìn, Cartagena, Buenos Aires. He is one of the few classical artists to ever perform at outdoor festivals such as Latitude and Sonar.

In addition to writing regularly for UK and Spanish newspapers and presenting radio documentaries and programs for BBC Radio 3 and Cadena SER, James has also appeared in and presented various television programs for the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky Arts.

His Sunday Times and international bestselling memoir, Instrumental, published by Canongate, is a brutally honest, moving and compelling story that was almost banned until the UK Supreme Court unanimously overthrew an injunction in May 2015. Lionsgate and Monumental Films have secured the rights for the screen adaption of Instrumental, which is due for cinematic release in 2022, to be directed by Oscar-winning director James Marsh.

His second book, How to Play the Piano, promising to give anyone the tools they need in order to play a Bach prelude was published by Quercus Books in 2016 to great acclaim. Both of these books were published in Spain by Blackie Books and become No. 1 bestsellers.

In 2018 James launched his new album and his third book, Fire On All Sides. The book is an international bestseller and the new album went straight to the top of the classical charts.

In October 2019, Hachette Wren & Hook published Jame’s 4th book entitled James’s Rhodes PLAYLIST. James is now published in over 14 languages across the globe

In 2021, James’ new book Made in Spain will be published by PLAN B - Penguin Random House España.

James lives in Madrid where he collaborates regularly with la SER and writes a monthly column for El Pais. He has also worked closely with Save the Children and Spanish politicians to bring about a new child protection law in Spain, due to come into effect in early 2021.


Robert Glowacki Photography

Idris Khan OBE

Born in Birmingham in 1978, Idris Khan OBE, lives and works in London. A major survey exhibition was held at The New Art Gallery Walsall in February 2017, with solo presentations of the artist’s work previously staged at national and international institutional venues including The British Museum, London, UK; Whitworth Gallery; Manchester, UK; Gothenburg Konsthall, Sweden and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto. His work is in numerous institutional and private collections, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; LACMA, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Art, London, Washington and San Francisco; and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. In 2023, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, will present the first career survey exhibition by the artist in the United States. Idris Khan: The Seasons Turn, an exhibition of new work by the artist, opens at Victoria Miro in April 2021.

Idris Khan: The Seasons Turn will be on view at Victoria Miro, London from13 April to 15 May 2021. Conceived of as two distinct installations, each a reflection on aspects of the past year, The Seasons Turn includes a suite of 28 watercolour and oil collaged works on paper that incorporate fragments of the score of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, and an environment of enveloping blue paintings whose rich bands of colour are layered with the artist’s thoughts, feelings and responses to 2020.


Katie Derham

Katie Derham is a presenter on BBC Radio 3 and one of the station’s best known voices, having presented Afternoons on 3 and more recently taking on the mantle of drive time programme In Tune, fronting the show on rotation with Sean Rafferty. Other Radio 3 credits include Sound of Dance on Saturday afternoons where she explored the relationship between music and dance in varying genres.

She has also been the face of the BBC Proms since 2010 and hosts the weekly magazine show Proms Extra every Saturday on BBC2 during the season. Katie also presented for BBC Four’s series of Discovering concert programmes in 2019.

Katie spent the first 15 years of her broadcasting career in news and current affairs, first at the BBC then as ITV’s youngest ever newsreader, where her role as anchor meant she covered everything from elections to royal weddings and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

She also fronts television documentaries, most recently presenting The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach for the BBC, which saw her travelling to Rio de Janeiro, where her Father was born, to explore the story behind Brazil’s most famous and enduring song. She was the host of All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge for BBC4 and Fine Tuned, two specials for Sky Arts in which she discussed music with Alexander Armstrong alongside exclusive performances from his latest albums.

In 2015 Katie’s career took a decidedly glittery direction when she took part in Strictly Come Dancing and reached the final, in 2017 she was crowned Strictly Christmas champion.

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