Suburb couple start canal concerts with afternoon tea

The Piano boat is launching in King's Cross

The Piano boat is launching in King's Cross - Credit: Piano Boat

A Hampstead Garden Suburb couple has set up London’s “first floating concert hall”.

Classical musicians Rhiana Henderson and Masayuki Tayama have kickstarted the Piano Boat, a custom-built barge delivering live performances on the water.

Their “concert cruises” feature recitals by pianist Masayuki, followed by afternoon tea or brunch.  

The Piano Boat is hired for gigs, private bookings and holidays, as audiences are taken through the “tranquillity and beauty” of the Colne Valley Regional Park canals.  

Rhiana, a piano teacher, told the Ham&High: “It has been a surreal experience to welcome guests on board and share this space with them at last.   

“Although we were nervous to start, the feedback has been wonderful so far and it’s been an amazing feeling to be able to combine live music-making with the tranquillity of the canals and an afternoon tea or brunch from the gallery.” 

The Piano Boat was three years in the making, as its creators were forced to delay their long-awaited plans by lockdown.  

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Not to be deterred, the Suburb couple started an online concert series during the coronavirus pandemic which racked up more than 20,000 views in 15 months.  

As Covid-19 restrictions eased, these sessions have continued to attract customers from around the world.  

“We do face challenges along the way,” Rhiana continued. “Not least because we’re a two-person team, running absolutely everything: bookings, answering enquiries, managing finances, marketing, cooking, skippering the boat, the piano recitals and more.” 

Adding an extra layer of challenge, Masayuki has started to perform and record all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, alongside a Rachmaninov recording project.  

Customers enjoying afternoon tea 

Customers enjoying afternoon tea - Credit: Piano Boat

The official launch of the Piano Boat comes this weekend in King’s Cross.  

The event will include musicians such as pianist Philip Fowke, and Craig Terry, the managing director of Steinway UK.     

Philip and Craig will be presenting talks, with Philip and Masayuki delivering short individual performances.  

Guests will include artist Annie Newman.  

The Piano Boat recently featured on Channel 4 programme My Floating Home.