MAESTRO: Former Grafton composer and musician Paul Hankinson has released a new album, Echoes of a Winter's Journey.
MAESTRO: Former Grafton composer and musician Paul Hankinson has released a new album, Echoes of a Winter's Journey. Stefanie Marcus

Paul's famous hands inspired from home

WITH a new album of solo piano music just released, former Grafton musical maestro Paul Hankinson is about to lead the music on a cruise from Ecuador to Chile as musical director for German singer Katharine Mehrling.

His greatest international exposure recently, however, has come from a simple video of his hands playing a specially arranged "wedding version" of an Ed Sheeran song.

This video attracted nearly three million hits, and the inspiration came from someone better known at home for rattling the pickets than tickling the ivories.

I actually have my nephew Eli Fahey to thank for the whole YouTube extravaganza," Mr Hankinson said.

"You might know him from local cricket glory," he said.

"He loves Ed Sheeran and he likes to play piano although he never learned. He can't read music so he asked me to video my hands so that he can see what I'm playing and work it out."

Mr Hankinson listened to Sheeran's hit Perfect and thought it would be the wedding song of the year, and decided to mix it with the classic Pachelbel's Canon and upload the video onto YouTube.

So far, more than 2.9 million people have watched his hands play.

"It happened as I was flying to Australia in June; it started to go crazy," he said.

"It was so exciting with my family, it was surreal but fun."


Adam Hourigan

Mr Hankinson took the opportunity to partner with online sheet music store to create the much-requested sheet music for his covers, something he said had added another aspect to his musical work.

"The beauty of it is that I can just do it from home, and I never have that feeling that I don't have work.

"When I'm in-between jobs, I can just make another cover," he said.

Mr Hankinson has recently released a new album of original music titled Echoes of a Winter's Journey, which he created from sounds he found beautiful.

"I wanted something with a 'Schubert' feeling, and how it can just gently break your heart with a single note," he said.

"So I went home and improvised on it, and the album kind of grew from here, remembering other moments of Schubert which I love and improvising on them.

"I ended up with hours of improvisations and then it was kind of a process of distilling things down to what felt essential.

"I didn't want to make an album of improvisations, I wanted to feel like they were full, realised pieces.

"It ended up being very meditative, simple, and I would love for it to bring moments of calm to someone's day."

Mr Hankinson has been based in Berlin for the past 11 years, and is busy composing and arranging music while not performing.

"Before embarking on the cruise, I was in Munich, composing and arranging music for the theatre there - a Bertolt Brecht play - so that was a pretty amazing job," he said.

"The highlight was probably writing arrangements for Megan Washington and the Sydney Symphony - that was magic to sit in the Opera House and hear them play my arrangement, and Megan is just the best."

Mr Hankinson said he was looking forward to performing works from the new album in the new year, and composing a new album with strings.

Firstly though, he's heading home.

"This year I'll be home for Christmas because the cruise ship company said they could just as easily fly me from Chile to Brisbane as back to Berlin and I said 'go for it'. I love Christmas with my family," he said.

The album can be found through Itunes or Spotify, and his covers are available through the Paul Hankinson YouTube channel.

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