Eleanor Alberga is a highly regarded British composer with commissions and premieres from the BBC Proms and The Royal Opera. Her work is noted for its emotional impact, depth of craft and brilliant colouring and orchestration. Born and growing up in Jamaica, her cultural inheritance is wide including performing with the Jamaican Folk Singers and as a dancer with an African Dance company. Coming to the UK initially on a scholarship to study piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music, her compositional talents came to the fore whilst working in the contemporary dance world and she now boasts a rich catalogue of works in all genres: her Opera based on an Isabel Allende story, ‘Letters of a Love Betrayed’, drew comparison with Debussy’s Pelléas and Berg’s Wozzeck; three string quartets; a growing sequence of chamber music Nocturnes featuring horn and oboe, and orchestral music including two violin concertos and a rip-roaring adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ as well as her Last Night of the Proms opener ‘Arise Athena’. Her early piano music has a deep connection to her Jamaican heritage and there is music for solo voice and for choir.
Alberga now lives in the English countryside with her husband, the violinist Thomas Bowes, and together they have founded and nurtured an original festival - Arcadia.
Few musicians epitomise the term of the ‘exceptional artist’ better than Kit Armstrong. Born in 1992 in Los Angeles, Armstrong has been described by Alfred Brendel as ‘the greatest talent’ he has ever encountered, not only demonstrating extraordinary aptitude at the piano but also at the organ and as a conductor, as well as being a composer in great demand.
Armstrong collaborates with many of the world’s most sought-after conductors and has been a guest at some of the world’s finest orchestras. In summer 2018, he was Artist in Residence at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and he is ‘Artist in Resonance’ at the Musikkollegium Winterthur. In the same year, he received the Beethoven-Ring by the German society, Bürger für Beethoven.
Recent and upcoming highlights include concerts with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Münchener Kammerorchester, Stuttgart Kammerorchester and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, and piano recitals at Wiener Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, Rheingau Musik Festival, Munich’s Prinzregententheater, Ruhr Piano Festival and Schubertiade Hohenems, among others. He has appeared as organist with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and Wiener Konzerthaus, and is scheduled to appear at the Bruckner Festival Linz. He gave his acclaimed debut as conductor at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in 2018 and recently was guest conductor with the Bochumer Symphoniker.
Armstrong’s debut recording with works by Bach, Ligeti and Armstrong was released in 2013 by Sony Classical, followed two years later by his second album, Liszt: Symphonic Scenes. His own compositions are published by Edition Peters.
Armstrong studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music and continued the Royal Academy of Music. Aged seven, he started studying composition at Chapman University and physics at California State University, followed by chemistry and mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and mathematics at Imperial College London. He earned a Master’s degree in pure mathematics at the University of Paris VI. At the age of 13, Armstrong met Alfred Brendel, who has guided him as a teacher and mentor ever since. Their unique relationship was captured in the film, Set the Piano Stool on Fire, by Mark Kidel.
A deeply passionate and sensitive pianist, Christian Blackshaw is celebrated for the incomparable musicianship of his performances. His playing combines tremendous emotional depth with great understanding.
Following studies with Gordon Green at the Royal Manchester College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, winning the gold medals at each, Blackshaw was the first British pianist to study at the Leningrad Conservatory with Moisei Halfin. He later worked closely with Sir Clifford Curzon in London.
Blackshaw has performed worldwide and in festivals as recitalist and soloist with many renowned conductors including Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda, Yuri Temirkanov and Sir Neville Marriner. He was Founder Director of the Hellensmusic Festival, which was established in 2013.
His hugely acclaimed Wigmore Hall complete Mozart Piano Sonatas series was recorded for Wigmore Hall Live and released in four volumes. Critics have been unanimous in their praise, describing these ‘landmark’ recordings as ‘captivating’, ‘magical’ and ‘masterful’. Volume 4 was named as one of the Best Classical Recordings of 2015 in the New York Times in addition to Gramophone’s 50 Greatest Mozart Recordings.
Recent notable performances include the Mozart cycle in Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing, a return to the Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg and debuts at the Schwetzingen Festival and Edinburgh International Festival. He has also been an Artist in Residence at Wigmore Hall. Blackshaw was awarded an MBE in the New Year 2019 Honours List.
Simon Crawford-Phillips is a multi-festival director, renowned pianist, creative programmer with a passion for championing contemporary repertoire, and a chamber musician who regularly collaborates with artists such as Daniel Hope and Lawrence Power in repertoire from Haydn and Schumann to Adès, Byström, Dean and Reich. His own ensembles include the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, and Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble (resident artists at Stockholm Konzerthus).
His programming is reflected in an extraordinarily varied career as a conductor/director alongside his solo collaborations. In 2017 he was appointed Artistic Adviser and Chief Conductor of Västerås Sinfonietta, now extended until 2023. He has broadened the Sinfonietta’s reach and repertoire as well as launching the Sinfonietta’s own festival. Of the Sinfonietta’s most recent album, Sydsvenskan writes 'an artistic bullseye by an ensemble that promotes contemporary music but also performs classical repertoire with a twist'. Recent conducting engagements have included the Swedish Radio Symphony, Aalborg Symphony, Polish Chamber, Nash Ensemble and English Chamber orchestras as well as assisting Daniel Harding, Alain Altinoglu and Stanislav Kochanovsky annually at the Verbier Festival.
As a pianist The Guardian says Crawford-Phillips has 'profound sensitivity and technical brilliance, achieving an expressive intensity that made for compelling listening'. He performs in premiere festivals and concert halls across Europe including Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Edinburgh, and at Wigmore Hall where in the new season he will appear as the regular pianist with Chamber Ensemble in Residence, the acclaimed Nash Ensemble, and in recital with Daniel Hope and Lawrence Power. Notable concerto debuts include the NHK Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alan Gilbert, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov and more recently the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra directing from the keyboard.
He is the Artistic Director of the Change Music Festival in Norra Halland, Västerås Music Festival and Co-Artistic Director of the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival. A renowned teacher, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2010 and currently teaches at the Gothenburg Academy of Music and Drama. Recent guest teaching has included the Schymberg masterclasses in Sweden together with Anne Sofie von Otter and chamber music at Indiana University in Bloomington and the University of Colorado.
British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is internationally recognised for his electrifying performances, distinctive sound and insightful interpretations. His virtuosic command over the most arduous technical complexities underpins the remarkable depth and understanding of his music making, with Süddeutsche Zeitung lauding his ‘astounding technical gifts, the freshness of his imagination, his intense concentration, the absence of any kind of show, and the unmistakable sense of poetic immersion directed solely at the realization of music’.
A pianist of widespread international acclaim, Grosvenor’s recent and forthcoming concerto highlights include engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Gürzenich-Orchestra Cologne, Orchestre National de France, Hallé Orchestra, Orquesta Nacional de España, Filarmonica della Scala and the Philharmonia Orchestra with such esteemed conductors as Andrey Boreyko, Semyon Bychkov, Riccardo Chailly, Elim Chan, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Manfred Honeck, Andrew Manze, Kent Nagano, Gianandrea Noseda, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, François-Xavier Roth, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, Krzysztof Urbański and Kazuki Yamada.
In recital, Grosvenor regularly performs at major venues such as London’s Barbican and Wigmore Halls as well as the Southbank Centre, Théâtre des Champs Elysées Paris, Munich’s Herkulessaal, Cologne’s Philharmonie, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and New York’s Carnegie Hall and 92nd Street Y. A keen chamber musician, this season sees him embark on a North American tour with the Doric String Quartet, perform duo concerts with violinist Hyeyoon Park, join musicians from the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France for a chamber concert, and perform at the Verbier Festival at Schloss Elmau and at Internationales Musikfestival Koblenz.
Grosvenor signed to Decca Classics in 2011, becoming the youngest British musician ever, and the first British pianist in almost 60 years, to sign to the label. His most recent CD on the label features Frédéric Chopin’s piano concertos, recorded with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the baton of Elim Chan. Named Recording of the Month by Gramophone, the disc was also awarded a Diapason d'Or, with Diapason's critic declaring that the recording is ‘a version to rank among the best, and confirmation of an extraordinary artist.’
Joseph Havlat was born in Hobart, Australia and studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Professor Joanna MacGregor between 2012 and 2018, receiving his BMus and MMus with distinction and awards for exceptional merit in studentship and the highest recital mark for a postgraduate pianist.
Havlat has performed in major concert venues around the UK and in Europe, America, Japan and Australia as a soloist and as part of chamber groups. In 2019 he was made a Young Artist at St. John’s Smith Square where he is to give recitals in the 2020/21 season, and he was awarded first prize in the keyboard section of the Royal Overseas League Music Competition. The same year he was made a Young Artist of the Oxford Lieder Festival alongside fellow Australian mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, with whom he works regularly in both standard and contemporary classical spheres.
He is a keen chamber musician, performing frequently with groups including Tritium (clarinet) trio, Trio Derazey and the two-piano Duo Ex Libris, as well as frequently collaborating in many other chamber music scenarios. He is a member of the LSO percussion ensemble with whom he has released a CD on the LSO Live label, including the premiere recording of John Adams’ two-piano work Roll Over Beethoven.
Passionate about modern and contemporary music, he is a founding member and original artistic director of contemporary music collective Ensemble x.y. During his time studying he gave performances of concertos by Ligeti, Messiaen, Stravinsky and others, which has led him to collaborate with such composers as Michael Finnissy, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Gerald Barry and Thomas Larcher. He is an avid composer, having written for the aforementioned ensembles, and views his compositional work as intrinsic to his musical development and his most important form of artistic expression.
One of today’s most successful pianists, Freddy Kempf performs to sell-out audiences all over the world. Exceptionally gifted with an unusually broad repertoire, he has built a unique reputation as an explosive and physical performer who is not afraid to take risks as well as a serious, sensitive, and profoundly musical artist.
Kempf has collaborated with conductors such as Petrenko, Davis, Sinaisky, Chailly, Tortelier, Sawallisch, Buribayev and Simonov, and has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, La Scala Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Dresden Philharmonic.
Most recent career highlights include his debut at the BBC Proms, an extensive Asian tour including Seoul Arts Centre and PyeongChang Chamber Music Festival in South Korea; Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore; and concerto appearances with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan National Symphony, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra and Bergen Philharmonic. A favourite touring artist, his recent tours include a play/direct tour across New Zealand with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and an extensive twelve-date tour with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra across the UK for which he received critical acclaim.
A committed recitalist, Kempf has appeared in many of the world’s most important concert halls including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, Berlin Konzerthaus, Milan Conservatory, Sala Verdi, London’s Cadogan and Royal Festival Hall, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, Sydney’s City Hall and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. This season’s recital highlights include appearances at the Birmingham International Piano Series, Moscow’s House of Music, and the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory.
Born in London in 1977, he made his concerto debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 8 and further came to national prominence in 1992 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. In 1998, his award of third, rather than first, prize in the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow provoked protests from the audience and an outcry in the Russian press, which proclaimed him ‘the hero of the competition’.
Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in the New York Times that ‘Montero’s playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power … soulful lyricism … and, best of all, unsentimental expressivity’.
Recipient of the prestigious 2018 Heidelberger Frühling Music Prize, Montero’s recent highlights include debuts with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas; Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra with Aziz Shokhakimov; Orquesta de Valencia with Pablo Heras-Casado; and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with Carlos Miguel Prieto, the latter of which saw her feature as Artist-in-Residence for the 2019/20 season. Montero also recently performed her own Latin Concerto with the Orchestra of the Americas at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Edinburgh International Festival, as well as at the New World Center with Carnegie Hall’s NYO2.
Additional highlights include a second tour with the cutting-edge Scottish Ensemble, this time with Montero’s latest composition, Babel, as the centrepiece of the programme; her long-awaited return to Warsaw in 2018 for the Chopin in Europe Festival, marking 23 years since her prize win at the International Chopin Piano Competition; and return invitations to work with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jaime Martin and the Orquestra de Cadaqués, and Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras to date, from the Dresdner Philharmonie and Vienna Symphony Orchestra to the Australian Chamber Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra. A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, Montero is also a frequent recitalist and chamber musician, having given concerts at distinguished venues across the world, from Wigmore Hall to Vienna Konzerthaus and Sydney Opera House. She has appeared at many international festivals, including Edinburgh Festival, Salzburg and Lucerne, among others.
Hailed as a ‘born communicator’ by the Independent, Karim Said came to the public’s attention in 2009 playing concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra under the late Sir Colin Davis (Barbican Centre, London) and at the BBC Proms with Daniel Barenboim and the West Eastern Divan Orchestra. Said’s latest solo album Legacy was released on Rubicon Classics (UK) in November 2018. It received 5 Stars for interpretation and repertoire on West German Radio (WDR) and was described by Nicholas Kenyon in the Guardian/Observer as a programme ‘dispatched with intelligence and grace.’ Karim’s passion for early and modern music has earned him a reputation for stimulating programming, which led to a debut at the Aldeburgh Festival (UK) in June 2019. Last year’s highlights include a recital debut at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin and the launch of the Etihad Chamber Orchestra in his native Jordan as its first Artistic Director and Principal Conductor.
Karim Said was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2017.
Yevgeny Sudbin has been hailed by The Telegraph as “potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century”. As BIS Records’ only exclusive artist, all of his recordings have met with critical acclaim and are regularly featured as CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine or Editor’s Choice by Gramophone. His Scriabin recording was awarded CD of the Year by The Telegraph and received the MIDEM Classical Award for Best Solo Instrument Recording at Cannes. It was described by Gramophone as “a disc in a million” while the International Record Review stated that Sudbin’s Rachmaninov recording “confirms him as one of the most important pianistic talents of our time”. His 10th anniversary disc of Scarlatti Sonatas was received with equal rapture and not only hit No. 1 in the Classical Music Charts but was also nominated for the Gramophone Classical Music Award. Yevgeny was also nominated as Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2016.
Highly praised as a concert soloist, he has worked in recent seasons with the Philharmonia, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, as well as Minnesota Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, Czech Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, National Center for the Performing Arts Orchestra and many others. He also performs regularly in many of the world's finest venues and concert series including the Queen Elizabeth Hall (International Piano Series); Tonhalle Zurich; Royal Festival Hall; Concertgebouw (Meesterpianisten, Amsterdam); Avery Fisher Hall (New York) and Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco).
Sudbin was born in St Petersburg in 1980 and began his musical studies at the Specialist Music School of the St Petersburg Conservatory with Lyubov Pevsner at the age of 5. He emigrated with his family to Germany in 1990 where he continued his studies at Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule (Galina Ivanzova). In 1997 he moved to London to study at the Purcell School and subsequently the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees under Christopher Elton. In 2010, he was awarded a Fellowship by Academy and is now a Visiting Professor.