Meet RIOPY: the unbreakable French pianist who escaped a childhood cult

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“I’ve always said, I don’t play the piano out of passion”, RIOPY (full name, Jean-Philippe RioPy) began, facing an audience of attentive listeners at the Shoreditch Treehouse last Thursday.

“I play the piano out of necessity,” he continued, “When you have this intense pain inside yourself, some people go and workout or exercise to get rid of it. For me, I have to go and play the piano”.

At surface level, this is a somewhat dramatic opening to the East London launch event of the French pianist’s fourth album with Warner Classics, Thrive. However, RIOPY has every right to align his music making to this intense pain he refers to.

The 39-year-old grew up in a violent sect in western France with his mother and four siblings, a time in his life he still can’t publicly speak about in detail, but one in which he has been able to channel into his music.

Speaking to Classic FM he explained, “You know, sometimes I can’t find the words to express myself, whether that’s in French or English. But music is the deepest connection to emotions – it’s how I am able to express an emotion that I can’t with words.

“A good example of this from my new album is the piece, Nocturne”.

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