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All the best: Musician Barry Douglas' favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 54-year-old is a pianist, conductor and artistic director of the Clandeboye Festival of Music, which begins next week. He divides his time between Paris and Lurgan, with wife Deirdre and children Saoirse (19), Fergus (17) and Liam (16).

My best moment

Being present at the birth of my three beautiful children. They all laugh and scorn me except when I open my wallet. The boys are still at school and Saoirse is now at Queen's University studying French and Spanish. They all love playing piano; Liam also loves playing the acoustic guitar but none of them are going to take up music professionally.

My best way to relax

We go to Provence in the south of France every year and my favourite vineyard is there – Domaine de l'Auvrieres, where they make wonderful organic white and rose wine. I love relaxing with a glass of their rose.

My best job

I wear several hats at the moment, work-wise – as well as performing and conducting and the Clandeboye Festival there's also the Camerata Ireland orchestra, which I founded. It can all get a little manic sometimes, but I have a good team in place.

My best song

I have a softness for Waterloo by Abba – I love the band and that song was what started it all off for them really. My children have also introduced me to a German group called Tokio Hotel but they're not very well known in this country.

My best advice

Don't be afraid to be yourself and be true to yourself. That was from Lorin Maazel, a conductor who passed away recently. We worked together and he was a fantastic conductor. He would say that all the time because he had been a child prodigy and put a glass shield around himself. He always stuck to that saying, though.

My best gift

I have two portraits of Liszt and Wagner, who were great friends with one another. They were given to me by Felicitas LeWinter, who studied under a pupil of Liszt – and I studied under her. I met her when I was 16 and she gave me these marvellous portraits.

My best achievement

It's always the last good concert, which at the moment is the Proms I did last week in London. With every one you start from scratch and you don't know what's going to happen.

My best buy

I've just bought a new Steinway concert grand piano. I have three pianos now – there were two more but I have sold them.

The Clandeboye Festival takes place at the Clandeboye Estate, just outside Bangor, from next Monday to Saturday, August 18 – 23. For information, visit or

My best movie

Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, because I find it almost like a parable. It's an amazing understanding of human nature and the realisation that if you had the chance to do things over again would you really be able to fix your karma well enough.

My best book

Anything by Thomas Hardy, but in particular Tess Of The D'Urbervilles. It's stayed with me over the years and even if I read the first page I'm in seventh heaven.

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