This hour-long documentary, directed by BAFTA and Emmy award-winning director James Kent, meets Japanese teenager Momoka and Scottish music student Paul Murray to explore how Chopin’s extraordinary Ballade Number 1 transforms the lives of ordinary people and illustrates how classical music still penetrates contemporary life in unexpected and powerful ways.
It introduces Momoka, a 15-year-old pianist from Sendai, Japan, whose community was decimated by the 2011 tsunami and earthquakes. For Momoka, the Ballade embodies the anguish and rebellion she feels but doesn’t allow to surface.
For 22-year-old Paul from Glasgow, the piece is life-changing. Paul grew up in Bellshill, a poor, working class suburb of Glasgow. He first played piano at 15, and it opened up a whole new world for him. During his first term at uni Paul was diagnosed with a brain tumour and then MS, which both eventually caused him to lose the ability to walk and to play with his right hand. Waiting in his hospital bed in between operations over three months, he played the Ballade again and again on the iPod his dad Stephen had given him. It was that single piece’s emotional pull that Paul credits with the return of his memory.
Prod co: Oxford Film and Television