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James Rhodes: Notes from the Inside

Wed Jul 24, 10-11.05pm, C4

He’s got tattoos, wears trainers and says ‘man’ a lot, but there’s more to James Rhodes than just being another too-cool-for-school, bringing-classical-music-to-the-masses pseud. Much more. Five years ago, on the verge of finally succumbing to depression, self-harm and drug and alcohol abuse with which he’d struggled ever since being sexually abused at school, Rhodes entered a psychiatric hospital for nine months.

His salvation, he says, was a piece by Bach that offered him hope when he most needed it. Now, the acclaimed concert pianist is re-entering an unnamed institution to meet four patients and play them a piece he feels might penetrate their respective trauma and give them, if nothing else, a new perspective on life and their condition.

These are people who have been through unimaginable torment but, as Rhodes prompts them gently, they open up to him and his empathetic performances with very moving results. In an age of austerity, this sort of showcase for a supposedly fringe concern like music therapy is invaluable – and in Rhodes it has a powerful and persuasive advocate.