Weekend Q&A: Pianist Ruth McGinley on her love of 90s hip-hop, biopics and a good veggie curry...

Piano prodigy Ruth McGinley (44) is a former BBC Young Musician of the Year. The Derry-born pianist will perform work by Eric Satie and Jean Sibelius at the Out to Lunch Festival on January 13 and has just been appointed Artist in Residence at The MAC...

Ruth McGinley will perform at the Out To Lunch festival next week

:: How do you unwind at the weekend?

ALTHOUGH it's my job, I find music relaxing. I stopped playing for a number of years and when I came back to it, the way I felt about it had changed. Now I find piano playing therapeutic when life is stressful.

These days I get up early, around six, light a candle, then play music by people like Oliver Arnold, Max Richter and I also meditate a bit. I try to be disciplined about this, but over Christmas things got a little out of control.

But if you do this, it is I think a way of dealing with fear. I usually give myself an hour or so and wear a light round my neck as I am light sensitive and don't like harsh light. This sets me up for the day and I'll be doing it during my residency at The MAC.

:: What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

From the age of nine, when I won a music scholarship, Saturdays meant going by bus to Dublin with my mother for piano lessons. John O'Connor was my teacher and Ray Keary his assistant.

This journey was in the olden days so we'd leave at nine, go rocking around and arrive at a quarter past one. After my two hour lesson, I'd have half-an-hour clothes shopping. My two sisters, Tanya and Rachel, would also sometimes come along.

At the time, I'd be playing Chopin, Bach, Beethoven. Funnily enough, I found one of my music books the other day and, aged five, I was noting the dynamics in my childish handwriting. As a teenager, I loved to go to discos and was a real 90s hip-hop girl. I loved Destiny's Child and Janet Jackson and totally believed in the mantra 'Work hard and play hard'.

:: Is there a must-listen weekend radio show or podcast?

I'm a fan of Fearne Cotton's Happy Place. I also like Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul.

:: Is there a weekend TV programme or Netflix show you like?

We all indulge, don't we? I like good biopics, and recently watched King Richard about Serena and venus Williams' father. I enjoyed The House of Gucci too, with Lady Gaga whom I love. Also Succession on Sky Atlantic. Oh, and Schitt's Creek.

:: Is Sunday still special?

I was brought up as a Catholic and went to Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry. My parents ran the music school in the city. I've always had a deep feeling about spirituality. When I was at the Royal Academy of Music in London, I always felt I had to find a church.

Now, living in south Belfast, I like the Buddhist Centre on the Ormeau Road. I still feel Sunday is a day you will yourself to be quiet.

:: Have you a favourite restaurant or is it a takeaway?

I'm a curry woman and enjoy a vegetarian balti, ideally from the Bengal Brasserie whose food I love.

:: How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I am one of those strange characters who loves a Monday and January, I love a fresh start.

:: The Out to Lunch Festival runs from January 8, programme and tickets at

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