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The leader of the Pack

Despite an unlucky start to Hélène Grimaud’s Asian tour (her first concert in Shanghai was cancelled due to illness) she is back on track and ready to perform a recital in Beijing tonight. Beijing’s Time Out previews the performance.

The leader of the pack: Hélène Grimaud – Music – Time Out – BeijingPianist Hélène Grimaud is of immeasurable talent, with luminaries around the world clamouring to collaborate. Her copious reading in French, English and Russian literature and philosophy means she sounds smarter in her second language than most people do in their first. And she has made it her mission to save the wolf. Envious observers may accuse her of publicity-seeking, but besides the fact there are safer ways to make your mark, Grimaud is no dilettante – in any field. Eschewing the glamorous route, she downplays her movie-star looks onstage and lets her music, discography, numerous awards and two books speak for themselves, while her Wolf Conservation Center (WCC) in the US educates 30,000 people a year. With nothing left to prove, she can devote herself to designing challenging, adventurous concerts. This month she comes to Beijing. Most parents combat hyperactive children with prescription medicine; Grimaud's gave her piano lessons. 'They tried dance, gymnastics and tennis,' she says. 'I took a basic music course, that clicked immediately. I started piano and I never wanted anything else.'