On stage, his improvisational style of playing echoes that journey, invoking deep emotions and producing just the right sound that is easy on the ear, yet powerful in delivery. Each performance is orchestrally crafted, emboldened with rich and unconventional harmony. Ralston has clearly been inspired by Classical masters, Sergei Rachmaninov, Frederick Chopin and Alexander Scriabin, and Jazz greats, Keith Jarrett, Joe Sample and Oscar Peterson.
One of his career highlights came in December 2013 when he was invited to perform for Nelson Mandela's Memorial Service at the South African Consulate in Shanghai, China, where he played legendary pianist Abdullah Ibrahim's composition "Mannenberg" and other South African songs.
His debut EP "Red Lanterns" released in 2012 and subsequent Jazz and Christmas singles over the last 10 years, have been featured on South Africa's Zone Radio "Hill And Dale No Hoops Required" showcase. The track "Red Lanterns" has also been air-played on South Africa's FMR Radio "Night Beat" show in March 2021.
Raised in Cape Town, Ralston first took piano lessons from his father at age around 7. At age 10, he went on to pursue formal Classical training at the Battswood College of Music in 1986 through till 1994 with music teacher, Cheryl Wesso. During those 8 years he also enrolled in the Royal Schools of Music examinations through till grade 8, obtaining distinctions in his practical examinations. In 1995, he started Jazz studies with George Werner at the Jazz Workshop, after which he then pursued a business degree. In 2001, he resumed his Jazz studies at the Jazz Workshop with legendary Jazz pianist and teacher Mertyn Barrow.
Ralston performs both as a solo act, as well as in various ensembles and productions.
At the beginning of 2013, he performed as a solo piano/voice act at the Hilton Tian He Hotel in Guangzhou, China.
"His skills are wide ranging, not only a great piano player but a well accomplished crooner in the Jazz and Blues styles of music." - Arron Gwinnett, Hilton Tianhe
Immediately after his Guangzhou contract, he went to neighboring city Shenzhen to perform at The Langham Hotel's Duke's Jazz Bar.
"Jazz pianist and entertainer Ralston van der Schyff is a music genius and is now with us at Duke's." - Langham Shenzhen
In December 2013, he was invited to perform in the city of Nanjing's Poly Grand Theatre and Nanjing University of Science & Technology where he played his original compositions Audrey's Waltz and Water City.
Ralston is currently performing 2 shows in Shanghai - “Jazz Et Al. Beyond The Standard” at 1515 West Bar as resident pianist and vocalist, and “High Tea At Harrods” at Harrods Tea Rooms as resident pianist. Following his performance on an Edelweiss Piano at Harrods, he has been featured in an article on Edelweiss Piano's blog.