Described by The Telegraph as ‘in a class of his own’, James Baillieu has been prize-winner at the Wigmore Hall Song Competition and Das Lied International Song Competition, and he has won a Kathleen Ferrier Award and Richard Tauber Prize. He was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust in 2010, and in 2012 received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust Award. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award.
Baillieu has given solo and chamber recitals at prestigious venues and festivals throughout Europe and further afield. An innovative programmer, he has already curated a number of projects, including series for the Brighton Festival, BBC Radio 3, Verbier Festival, Bath International Music Festival and Perth Concert Hall. Baillieu presented his own series at the Wigmore Hall, which was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Chamber Music and Song Award, for an outstanding contribution to the performance of chamber music and song in the UK during 2016. Recent engagements include appearances at Wigmore Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Phillips Collection and Konzerthaus Dortmund.
Baillieu enjoys working with young musicians and is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, coach for the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, course leader for the Samling Institute for Young Artists and head of the Song Programme at Verbier Festival Academy’s Atelier Lyrique. In 2019, he led masterclasses with Mark Padmore at the Aldeburgh Festival for the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme.
Born in South Africa, Baillieu studied at the University of Cape Town and the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Dussek, Malcolm Martineau and Kathryn Stott. In 2007, he graduated with a DipRAM and received the Christian Carpenter Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements. He was appointed a Hodgson Fellow in 2007, Professor of Piano Accompaniment in 2011 and made Associate in 2012. He is also International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Baillieu writes of his time at the Academy:
'I loved my experience on the Piano accompaniment course at the Academy. I did the 2 year option - the first year was very busy and I relished all the opportunities of meeting new colleagues, playing for all manner of lessons and classes, playing all sorts of repertoire and getting used to a very fast and busy pace of musical life. In the second year, I focused more on building lasting duo partnerships and made use of the wonderful performance opportunities that were available in the various prestigious concert series at the Academy and also at festivals and venues around the UK.
The skills that I learnt and picked up whilst being on the course gave me a very good grounding for a career as a recitalist. There were numerous performing opportunities, wonderful colleagues to partner with - both instrumental and vocal - and the opportunity of playing with colleagues in their own lessons and classes meant that I was able to learn from great teachers from all areas of the Academy, whilst my own specialized teachers were focused on my pianistic and musical development.
The beauty of this course is that it offers the flexibility and opportunities to work in all sorts of fields, as seen in the varied careers of all my peers. I am thrilled to be one of the teachers on this wonderful course now and would wholeheartedly recommend it!'
‘At the piano, Baillieu was a beautifully matched “partner in crime” (Davidsen’s phrase, in one of several disarmingly sweet spoken introductions), with quicksilver fingers in Grieg, a delicious flexibility of tempo in Strauss and delicately balanced sound throughout. And in the closing bars of Strauss’s Morgen (their second encore), he provided the most breathtaking touch of all – suspending time and allowing silence itself to speak.’ - The Guardian, February 2020
‘Her partnership with Baillieu is clearly a fine one, too. He’s an exceptional accompanist, knowing both when to hold back and let the vocal line do the work, and when to assert himself and propel the music forward. Loewe’s sometimes deceptively simple figurations seemed fraught with meaning throughout, and his playing in Mahler’s Ich Atmet’ Einen Linden Duft
was simply exquisite.’ - The Guardian, January 2020
‘Yende’s partner for this recital, fellow South African James Baillieu, was extraordinary, showing all the makings of an exceptional vocal accompanist: his vivid playing never upstaged his partner, and he followed her beautifully, his choices responding to hers in real time…Baillieu might become one of the few pianists to achieve real fame as a vocal accompanist." - New York Classical Review, December 2019
Pianist Libby Burgess is known for her ‘warm, sensitive pianism’ (The Observer), her musical intelligence, and her generosity of collaborative spirit, taking inspiration from the breadth of outstanding musicians with whom she works across an exceptionally wide repertoire.
The creative highlight of her year is the annual New Paths festival, which she and her partner Roland Deller founded in Beverley (East Riding of Yorkshire). As Artistic Director she has quickly been recognised for the striking, enticing tone of her programming, reflecting her own twin interests of song and chamber music. In this context she is normally to be found giving some dozen performances in four days, ranging from the complete Schubert song cycles in 2019 (partnering Jonathan Lemalu, Nicholas Mulroy and Marcus Farnsworth), and annual commissions from living composers, to performances for pre-schoolers.
Following the impact of these festivals, New Paths was additionally asked to take on the long-running Beverley Chamber Music Festival, of which Burgess and international pianist Martin Roscoe are now Co-Artistic Directors. They have played together in duet several times; her other BCMF collaborators include the Brodsky Quartet; cellist Laura van der Heijden and mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately.
In between these festivals, she is to be found on recital stages across the country, prestigious and obscure. She has eight discs as duo partner and chamber musician to her name, performs on BBC Radio 3 and makes studio recordings with the BBC Singers. Although primarily motivated by musical collaboration, Burgess enjoys solo performance: recent highlights include Shostakovich’s First Concerto and a solo recital for Britten Sinfonia and she is currently developing a major project based around Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
The seed of Burgess’ love for working with voices was sown as organ scholar at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford – where she read music – and has blossomed in the intervening fifteen years at the piano, beginning with her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music. She is highly regarded as a chorus master, vocal coach, chamber music tutor, writer, adjudicator and masterclasses leader, and was previously Head of Keyboard at Eton College.
Libby writes of her time at the Academy:
'My time at the Academy definitely set me on the path of what I do now! The opportunity to work with so many different singers and instrumentalists, all in one concentrated bubble, was extraordinary. As a collaborative pianist I not only got input from my own piano teachers, but also from countless singing teachers, string professors, chamber music tutors, language coaches and opera staff: all of these things fed in to the portfolio of work that I now do. Perhaps most importantly of all, it was at the Academy that I formed many of the musical partnerships which even now are at the heart of my career.'
Timothy End graduated with a first-class honours degree in music from King’s College, London, before entering the Royal Academy of Music and gaining the DipRAM award for an outstanding recital. He held the Shinn Fellowship at the Academy, studying under Julius Drake and Patsy Toh. He is much sought-after as a chamber musician.
A multiple first-prize winner, End was awarded both the Pianist Prize and Jean Meikle Duo Prize with the baritone Jonathan McGovern at the Wigmore Hall Song Competition. Further prizes include the Accompanists’ Prize at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the Parnell Award for an Accompanist at the ROSL Annual Music Competition, the Gerald Moore Award and the MBF Accompanist Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Competition.
End is the accompanist of the Philharmonia Chorus and the City of London Choir.
He has just recorded the world premiere of Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade's Reginald for the Presteigne Festival. This is a work for narrator and chamber ensemble based on the works of Saki.
In the new year he will be recording a CD on Chandos with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet. The arrangements for the ensemble have been devised by Iain Farrington.
End writes of his time at the Academy:
‘Studying at the Academy and working with excellent and inspiring professors was a most fulfilling period. I had a good relationship with Head of Brass, Jim Watson, and relished working with all the brass instrumentalists. During this time, I was introduced to Dr Timothy Bowers and performed several of his brass sonatas. Another tremendous influence was my piano professor Julius Drake. This led to a study of lieder and inspiration from Richard Stokes. All these experiences helped me with the choral work I became involved with as a practising musician.’
Matthew Fletcher has a varied career as an accompanist and répétiteur. His performances have been broadcast live on BBC radio and television, Sky Arts and Classic FM, and have taken him to major UK venues and festivals, including Wigmore Hall, Snape Maltings, Oxford Lieder, Cheltenham Festival and the BBC Proms. He has collaborated with artists such as Danielle De Niese, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Brindley Sherratt, Sally Matthews and Allan Clayton. He has performed as a pianist and harpsichordist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and his competition successes include the accompanist prizes at Das Lied 2019 and the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Fletcher has been on the music staff at Glyndebourne since 2012, and in this capacity, he has worked on a huge variety of repertoire, from Handel and Mozart to Strauss, Janáček and several world premieres. He has also worked as an assistant conductor at the Linbury Theatre (Royal Opera House). He is in demand as a repertoire coach, working with established operatic stars such as Jonas Kauffman and John Tomlinson as well as the Jerwood Young Artists at Glyndebourne and the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House. He is on the teaching staff at the Royal Academy of Music working with singers and répétiteurs.
He read music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar. He then studied piano accompaniment with Michael Dussek and Pascal Nemirovsky at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2016 he was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Fletcher writes of his time at the Academy:
'My time at the Royal Academy was eye-opening and inspiring. The variety of music-making I undertook was incredibly enriching, and helped develop the versatility that is needed for a career like mine. Memorable projects include song circle recitals at the Wigmore Hall and King's Place, a complete performance of Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch, opera scenes, contemporary chamber music with the Manson Ensemble and Baroque chamber music on the harpsichord. As well as the superb individual tuition I received, the variety of teaching staff that I encountered playing for singing lessons and other instrumental lessons must also count as one of my highlights of being at the Academy. As a collaborative pianist, the thoughts of an experienced singer or instrumentalist on your playing and the repertoire you are studying are invaluable. The Academy was crucial in terms of establishing my career - many of my first steps into the industry came through recommendations and introductions from Academy staff, or from being heard at one of the many concerts the Academy put on in London's top concert venues. The Academy continues to serve as an artistic inspiration for me, through my students!'
Christopher Glynn is a Grammy award-winning pianist and accompanist, praised for his ‘irrepressible energy, wit and finesse’ (the Guardian). He is also Artistic Director of the Ryedale Festival, programming around 60 events every year in historic venues across North Yorkshire.
Glynn grew up in Leicester and read music at New College Oxford, before studying piano with John Streets in France, and with Malcolm Martineau and Michael Dussek at the Royal Academy of Music, where he now teaches. Glynn’s many awards include the Accompanist’s Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, a Gerald Moore Award, Geoffrey Parsons Award and a Grammy. A regular artist at Wigmore Hall, Glynn also appears in major concert venues and festivals across the world, including the BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall, Edinburgh International Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Cheltenham Music Festival, Schubertiade, Oxford Lieder Festival, Leeds Lieder, Royal Opera House, Barbican, Southbank Centre, The Royal Concertgebouw, Wiener Konzerthaus and as far afield as Japan, China, Brazil, Russia and Sri Lanka. He has made many CD recordings and is regularly heard on BBC Radio 3.
An interest in bringing classical song to a wider audience recently led Glynn to commission Jeremy Sams to create new English translations of Franz Schubert’s song cycles, recorded for Signum Records. He also enjoys working with young musicians and leads masterclasses for the Samling Institute for Young Artists and Britten-Pears School, as well as adjudicating many international competitions. Away from the piano, Glynn is President of Chiltern Arts and Vice-President of Music in Hospitals and Care.
Recent highlights include performing the Schubert song cycles with Roderick Williams (including a nationwide tour of Winter Journey), CDs exploring the music of Edvard Grieg, Percy Grainger, Donald Swann, Eric Coates and Hamilton Harty, and The Passion with Streetwise Opera. Future plans include further collaborations with Jeremy Sams (Robert Schumann and Hugo Wolf songs) and Streetwise Opera, CD recordings with Roderick Williams, Nicky Spence, Kathryn Rudge, Claire Booth and The Sixteen, a tour of Wolf's Italian Songbook and embarking on a project with Rachel Podger to perform and record Beethoven's Violin Sonatas.
Glynn writes of his time at the Academy:
'The Academy has a unique and special tradition of piano accompaniment and some amazing teachers. I was lucky enough to study with Malcolm Martineau and Michael Dussek – but also remember inspiring sessions with string, woodwind and conducting professors too. Accompanists really get the best from conservatoire life because, through their partners, they encounter such a wide cross-section of teachers and influences. The things I learnt - and the colleagues and friends I met - at the Academy have stayed with me throughout my working life. I'm very happy to now teach there, and to see a new generation of student accompanists join the Academy family each year and make their own contribution to its history.'
South Korean-born New Zealand pianist Somi Kim has established herself as one of today’s most highly regarded young pianists with a string of competition successes and extensive concert experience.
Kim is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. She graduated with an Advanced Diploma in Performance and Master of Arts with Distinction, receiving the HRH Princess Alice the Duchess of Gloucester’s Prize, a DipRAM and the Christian Carpenter prize. Kim is the 2017 winner of the Royal Over-Seas League Accompanist Prize, and has received the Gerald Moore Award, AESS Patricia Routledge National English Song Accompanist Prize, Mozart Singing Competition Accompanist Prize, Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition Accompanist Prize, Vivian Langrish Memorial Trust Prize, Thomas Art of Song Accompanist Prize, Major Van Someren-Godfrey Prize for Accompanists, the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Concordia Serena Nevill and Barthel Prizes, and the 6th Pettman/Royal Over-Seas League Arts International Scholarship. Kim made her debut with Chamber Music New Zealand in 2015.
Sought after as a chamber musician, song accompanist and répétiteur, Kim is an artist for the Kirckman Concert Society, Park Lane Group Music Trust and Concordia Foundation, and a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. She is a scholar on the Britten-Pears and Samling Artist Programmes, and Georg Solti Accademia, and is a staff pianist at The International Holland Music Sessions, International Vocal Competition ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Gisborne International Music Competition and New Zealand Opera School. Kim is the official pianist with the NZTrio, a piano trio recognised by the New Zealand Herald as ‘New Zealand’s most indispensable chamber ensemble’.
In recital, Kim’s recent and future appearances include at The Royal Concertgebouw, Slovak Philharmonic, Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Cadogan Hall, The Bridgewater Hall and the Edinburgh Fringe, Ryedale, St Endellion and Oxford Lieder festivals.
Sholto Kynoch is a sought-after pianist who specialises in song and chamber music. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the Oxford Lieder Festival, which won a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2015, cited for its ‘breadth, depth and audacity’ of programming.
Recent recitals have taken him to Wigmore Hall, Heidelberger Frühling in Germany, the Zeist International Lied Festival in Holland, the LIFE Victoria festival and Palau de la Música in Barcelona, the Opéra de Lille, Kings Place in London, Opernhaus Zürich, Maison Symphonique de Montréal, and many other leading venues and festivals nationally and internationally. He has performed with singers including Louise Alder, Benjamin Appl, Sophie Daneman, Tara Erraught, Robert Holl, James Gilchrist, Dietrich Henschel, Katarina Karnéus, Wolfgang Holzmair, Jonathan Lemalu, Stephan Loges, Daniel Norman, Christoph Prégardien, Joan Rodgers, Birgid Steinberger and Roderick Williams, amongst many others.
Together with violinist Jonathan Stone and cellist Christian Elliott, Kynoch is the pianist of the Phoenix Piano Trio. The Trio’s recent CD, The Leipzig Circle, was described as ‘splendidly vibrant’ (BBC Music Magazine) and having ‘unaffected freshness and charm’ (Gramophone). They have commissioned a number of new works, and recorded Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s The Forgiveness Machine for Champs Hill and Philip Venables’ Klaviertrio im Geiste for NMC.
In recent years, he has curated several series of recitals around exhibitions at the National Gallery, including their Monet and Architecture exhibition in 2018, and a series for the British Museum.
He recorded, live at the Oxford Lieder Festival, the first complete edition of the songs of Hugo Wolf. Other recent and forthcoming recordings include discs of Schubert and Schumann lieder, the complete songs of John Ireland and Havergal Brian with baritone Mark Stone, recital discs with Martin Hässler and Anna Stéphany, and several CDs with the Phoenix Piano Trio.
In July 2018, Kynoch was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. He studied Music at Worcester College, University of Oxford, before attending the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His teachers included Michael Dussek, Graham Johnson, Vanessa Latarche, Malcolm Martineau and Ronan O’Hora.
Simon Lepper read music at King’s College, Cambridge before studying piano accompaniment with Michael Dussek at the Royal Academy of Music and later with Ruben Lifschitz at the Fondation Royaumont. He is a currently professor of collaborative piano and a vocal repertoire coach at the Royal College of Music, London where he also in charge of the collaborative piano course. Since 2003 he has been an official accompanist for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Performance highlights have included an invitation from the Wigmore Hall to present a three concert project on the songs of Joseph Marx; recital tours with Stéphane Degout which have included the Ravinia and Edinburgh Festivals and the opera houses of Bordeaux, Dijon, La Monnaie, Lausanne and Lyon; his debut at Carnegie Hall, New York with Karen Cargill and at the Frick Collection with Christopher Purves; performances of the Schubert song cycles with Mark Padmore including at the Schubertiade, Hohenhems, recitals with Christiane Karg at Frankfrut Opera and the Rheingau Fesitval and recitals with Angelika Kirchschlager in Verbier and at the Wigmore Hall.
He has presented an all Schubert programme with Ilker Arcayürek in Barcelona, Zürich, New York (Park Armory), San Francisco and at the Wigmore Hall where further appearances have included recitals with Dame Felicity Palmer, Karen Cargill, Sally Matthews and Mark Padmore. With Benjamin Appl, he toured to India including recitals in Mumbai and Chennai and gave the opening performance for the highest concert hall in the world in Shenzhen with Aida Garifulina. Future highlights include a return to Carnegie Hall with Sally Matthews, the release of a CD of Ballads with Stéphane Degout for Hamonia Mundi with whom he will also give a European tour as well as recitals with young artists including Soraya Mafi, James Newby and Julien van Mellaerts.
His discography includes 2 volumes of Debussy Songs and a Strauss disc with Gillian Keith, a disc of Mahler songs with Karen Cargill, the complete songs of Jonathan Dove with Kitty Whately and a CD of contemporary violin works with Carolin Widmann which received a Diapason d’or. Recent releases include a song recital disc with Dame Felicity Palmer, a CD of Schubert songs with tenor Ilker Arcayürek and a live recital disc with Stéphane Degout which was a Gramophone magazine editor’s choice.
Simon writes about his time at the Academy:
'I came from university to study solo piano at the Academy before changing in my second year to piano accompaniment. It was this time, when I started lessons with Michael Dussek, that set me on a path of looking more deeply at the detail in any score. I was always a good sight-reader but Michael taught me how to practise. The lessons in the art of teaching also helped me develop skills in this area which I continue to use in my role as Professor of Collaborative Piano at the Royal College of Music.'
Pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music and has been highly acclaimed in this field. Described in Opera magazine as ‘the rightful heir to legendary accompanist Gerald Moore’, he was the first accompanist to win the Royal Philharmonic Society's Young Artist Award and to be listed in the Evening Standard’s ‘The Progress 1000: London’s most influential people’.
Middleton is a frequent guest at major music centres including Wigmore Hall (where he has curated his own series), Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, The Royal Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw, Wiener Konzerthaus, Musikverein Wien, Zürich Tonhalle, Kölner Philharmonie, Oper Frankfurt, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay, Oji Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Palau de la Musica. He is heard regularly at festivals across Europe, North America and South Korea, and made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 alongside Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson, returning in 2018 with Dame Sarah Connolly, where they premiered recently discovered songs by Benjamin Britten and launched their much-lauded recital CD for Chandos.
Middleton has a special relationship with BBC Radio 3, frequently curating his own series, and was selected as the song pianist for Radio 3’s recent New Generation Artist 20th anniversary celebrations at Wigmore Hall.
He has a critically acclaimed, fast-growing and award-winning discography, which has resulted in an Edison Award and numerous nominations for Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine awards. His recordings on with Dame Sarah Connolly, Carolyn Sampson, Iestyn Davies, Ruby Hughes, Amanda Roocroft, Louise Alder, Mary Bevan and Christopher Maltman have been selected as Disc of the Year in The Sunday Times, American Record Guide, International Classical Music Awards and on Radio France. His interest in the furthering of the song repertoire has led Gramophone to describe him as ‘the absolute king of programming’.
He is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician in Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, his alma mater, where he has had the title Fellow conferred upon him.
‘Joseph Middleton: rightful heir to legendary accompanist Gerald Moore’ - Opera Magazine
‘Joseph Middleton is a born collaborator...one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder, performing with the likes of baritone Sir Thomas Allen and soprano Dame Felicity Lott’ - BBC Music Magazine
‘Middleton is outstanding, his reputation as a rising star among accompanists richly deserved...Middleton, as one might expect, is marvellously insightful, playing throughout with weight, as well as grace and subtlety...the absolute king of programming.’ - Gramophone Magazine
Winner of the Pianist Prize at the 2019 Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition, Michael Pandya is an increasingly sought-after pianist specialising in song and chamber music. He has appeared in performance alongside many high calibre musicians including Graham Johnson, Željko Lučić, Jonathan Lemalu, Robin Tritschler, Harriet Burns and William Thomas, and has performed across the UK, Europe and USA. The past two years have also brought accompaniment prizes at the Gerald Moore Award, Kathleen Ferrier Awards and Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
Pandya has recently appeared in performance at the Wigmore Hall, Bayerische Staatsoper, KlavierFestRuhr, Oxford Lieder Festival, Newbury Spring Festival, Royal Overseas-League London, Hinchingbrooke Bösendorfer Series, the Barbican Hall, Leeds Lieder Festival and several live performances on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. Upcoming engagements include recitals with cellist Leo Popplewell for the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme, recitals for Making Music with soprano Charlotte Bowden and recitals as an Oxford Lieder Young Artist alongside soprano Harriet Burns, including at the Two Moors Festival. He is a Samling Artist, as well as being a regular pianist for the Samling Academy. He has given recitals for the Park Lane Group and the Concordia Foundation, and received the Graham Johnson Fellowship at SongFest, Los Angeles in 2017.
He is continuing as a Young Artist at the Bayerische Staatsoper Opera Studio for the 2020/21 season. An experienced repetiteur and vocal coach, he worked as a repetiteur for New Chamber Opera for two years, directing, coaching and conducting numerous productions. He is also a scholar of and regular pianist for the Georg Solti Accademia.
Pandya studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Academy of Music and University of Oxford. Teachers have included Graham Johnson, Julius Drake, Michael Dussek, James Baillieu, Ian Brown, Caroline Palmer and Sholto Kynoch.
Michael writes of his time at the Academy:
'My time at the Academy was a hugely fruitful and fulfilling period. The weekly piano lessons resulted in vast levels of improvement in my playing, but perhaps what I learnt more than anything else was the importance of establishing and maintaining connections with other musicians. Through the frequent inter-departmental opportunities and social events that happen at the Academy, as well as group classes and performance opportunities, one is able to form lasting partnerships with musicians who share the enthusiasm for collaboration. Aside from this, the art of practicing was something I started thinking about while studying at the Academy; I began by practicing 5/6 hours per day but, if I’m honest, not using most of that time particularly productively. Now that I’m working a full-time schedule of coaching and rehearsals in Bayerische Staatsoper, I don’t get much time to practice, so I’m thankful that I learnt that sometimes getting a good 30 minutes of focused practice is actually far more beneficial than playing for three hours without full focus and commitment. Making the most of every minute of practice is something I learnt from my time at the Academy that I’ll undoubtedly benefit from throughout my career.'
Praised as ‘exceptional’ and his playing ‘deft and responsive’ (the Observer), Keval Shah has quickly established himself at the forefront of a new generation of song pianists, with appearances at concert halls and festivals across Europe, and a string of competition successes.
Recent highlights include concerts at the Buxton International Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as an Artist in Residence series at Burgh House, and recitals as part of an ongoing project to perform the complete songs of Hugo Wolf. In September 2019, Shah was the official accompanist for the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition. His performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Danish national radio (DR P2), and he has recorded for Decca Classics. His debut album, with bass-baritone Michael Mofidian, is due for release on the Linn Records label in 2021.
Away from the recital platform, Shah is carving an international career as a teacher. After a spell teaching at the Royal Academy of Music, in September 2020 he will take up the position of Lecturer of Lieder at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where he will be the youngest professor in the institution’s history.
Shah is also active as a broadcaster and writer. He is a regular contributor and presenter for BBC Radio 3 and holds an Edison Fellowship at the British Library, where he is researching changing trends in the recorded performances of the songs of Hugo Wolf.
A former Britten-Pears Young Artist and Oxford Lieder Young Artist, Shah studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, graduating from both institutions with distinction. His teachers have included Michael Dussek, Audrey Hyland and Malcolm Martineau, and he has also benefited from tuition with Roger Vignoles, Bengt Forsberg and Helmut Deutsch.
Shah writes of his time at the Academy:
'My time at the Academy was absolutely critical in helping me to discover and hone my artistic identity. After a brilliant, but mainly academic, undergraduate experience, my two years on the MA programme at the Academy gave me the space and time to focus on my playing, building and refining my technique at the same time as learning much of the core song repertoire. Being surrounded by fellow pianists and a cohort of talented singers, I found myself in the ideal environment to forge musical partnerships and friendships which I now carry with me through my career. The enormous amount of performance opportunities, both in the building and at external venues like Wigmore Hall, gave me the stage experience I desperately needed, and through that I learnt so much about what it means to perform, and what it takes to do it successfully.
I was able to make the most of all the opportunities and possibilities of Academy life because I had the constant support and supervision of my professors. Michael Dussek, Audrey Hyland and Malcolm Martineau helped me to establish the strongest possible technical and musical foundation, and then taught me how to move beyond that foundation, allowing me to discover a physical and expressive freedom which has continued to expand the possibilities of my playing.
The most special thing about the Academy for me has always been the atmosphere of creativity and love for this art form. Being exposed every day to such an energetic environment has constantly renewed my passion for and dedication to what I do – stepping through the doors of the Academy is the best possible way of reminding oneself of the great privilege and joy of making music, and I am forever grateful for everything the Academy has been for me.'
A multiple prize-winning and critically acclaimed conductor and accompanist, William Vann is equally at home on the podium or at the piano. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the London English Song Festival and Director of Music at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Born in Bedford, Vann was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, and a music scholar at Bedford School. He subsequently read law on a choral scholarship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was taught the piano by Peter Uppard. He then studied piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music with Malcolm Martineau and Colin Stone.
His many prizes for piano accompaniment include the Wigmore Song Competition Jean Meikle Prize for a Duo with Johnny Herford, the Gerald Moore award, the Royal Overseas League Accompanists’ Award, a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust award, the Concordia-Serena Nevill Prize, the Association of English Singers and Speakers Accompanist Prize, the Great Elm Awards Accompanist Prize, the Sir Henry Richardson Scholarship and the Hodgson Fellowship in piano accompaniment at the Academy.
Vann has collaborated across the world with a vast array of singers and instrumentalists, including Sir Thomas Allen CBE, Mary Bevan, Allan Clayton, Thomas Gould, Guy Johnston, Jennifer Johnston, Jack Liebeck, Aoife Miskelly, Ann Murray DBE, Matthew Rose, Kathryn Rudge, Brindley Sherratt, Nicky Spence, Toby Spence, Henry Waddington, Roderick Williams, Benyounes and Navarra Quartets, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music and London Mozart Players. His discography includes recordings with Albion, Champs Hill, Chandos, Delphian, Etcetera, Navona and SOMM.
He is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, a Trustee of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society, a Samling Artist, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Co-Chairman of Kensington and Chelsea Music Society, Artistic Director of Bedford Music Club, Guest Conductor of the English Chamber Choir and a regular conductor and vocal coach at the Dartington and Oxenfoord International Summer Schools.
Vann writes of his time at the Academy:
'My three years at the Academy deepened, enriched and fine-tuned my musical experience and instincts in a way that I hadn’t previously realised was possible. Two years studying with Malcolm Martineau and Colin Stone gave me technical grounding, a palette of colours and the bravery to trust my musical gut within the context of my new-found musical knowledge. I was then immensely lucky to have the chance to continue at the Academy as Hodgson Fellow, through which I made a wealth of contacts with some superb artists, many of whom I continue to work with to this day. I owe a huge amount to a wide array of tutors and professors who influenced and taught me during those years; to Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, who continues to offer support and advice many years after I left the building; to Malcolm for his continued guidance and inspiration and to my fellow students who have become valued friends and colleagues.'
Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams is widely admired for his profound musical intelligence, and for the expressive and communicative nature of his interpretations. An acclaimed performer of Beethoven, he has several complete sonata cycles under his belt, including at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, while in May 2020 a planned full cycle at the Festival Cultural de Mayo in Guadalajara, Mexico was recorded as live by Signum Records from his home in Wrexham and broadcast by the Festival.
In 2019 Williams returned to the Edinburgh Festival, as well as the Cowbridge festival where he is Artist-in-Residence, and the Gower Festival where he is a Patron. In 2020, prior to lockdown, he returned to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a recreation of Beethoven’s 1808 Vienna Concert, and gave all-Beethoven recitals in Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as for the Philadelphia Chamber Music society in the US. Following the completion of his Cardiff series Pictures in Music, in 2020/21 Williams will start of an all-Chopin series over two seasons and a five-recital Schubert cycle at Wigmore Hall.
Williams’s eclectic repertoire is reflected in his discography; his 12-CD Box set Beethoven Unbound, from the Wigmore Hall Beethoven cycle (Signum Records), was BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month in August 2018. Other recordings by Williams include two solo albums for Signum, as well as William Mathias’s second Piano Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on Welsh label Tŷ Cerdd.
Williams is a former BBC New Generation Artist and Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award recipient, and an Honorary Fellow and artist-in-association of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Williams writes of his time at the Academy:
'When I arrived at the Academy I had a lot of musical knowledge and enthusiasm but not necessarily the means to put it across. It was during my time there that the foundations of my keyboard technique were developed, particularly working with Michael Dussek. There were many enriching opportunities to work with students from other departments, particularly the Vocal Faculty. I will always remember a concert I gave at the Duke's Hall of Wolf Lieder when I felt that my playing had really come together for the first time. It was events like this that gave me the confidence to start building up my career as a performer.'