Frequent Flyer: Gillian Helfgott

Gillian and David Helfgott.
Gillian and David Helfgott. 

This music manager and companion always packs lightly.

Q How and when did you meet your pianist husband?

A I met David in Perth in 1983. He was playing the piano at Riccardo's restaurant and came around to the house of the restaurant owner, Dr Chris Reynolds. He embraced me and asked if I was coming to hear him play that night, which I was. The next day he asked me to marry him.

Q Where have you been recently?

A We spent three months in Europe, visiting Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, France and Britain. We've also been travelling interstate, so the suitcase is rarely empty.

Q Is it mainly for concert commitments?

A Yes, nearly all our travel is for concerts and I always fly with David. I can't quite visualise him travelling alone [David has schizoaffective disorder, which causes mood swings. His condition, along with his genius, was depicted in the 1996 movie Shine].

Q Do you both have a joy of flying?

A David is an excellent traveller and enjoys being spoilt by the cabin crew. I enjoy sitting for 24 hours and catching up on movies.

Q Do you talk a lot during flights?

A Not really. David puts the earphones on at the beginning of the flight, on the classical music station, and leaves them on for the flight. He also sleeps sitting up and does not take advantage of the wonderful beds on aircraft these days.

Q What's in your hand luggage?

A Computer, portable DVD player, change of clothes and books. We only have one lot of hand luggage. We travel extremely light.

Q Is David often recognised and do you need to fend off well-wishers?

A He is but he loves well-wishers so we would never turn them away. He really loves chatting to people and having photos taken with them.

David Helfgott plays the Shine concerto (Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3) at Sydney's City Recital Hall, Angel Place, on Thursday and Friday, and at the Melbourne Arts Centre on August 15. See davidhelfgott.com.

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