Evening recital, Thursday 21 July 2011
The conference is delighted to welcome Robin Michael (cello) and Huw Watkins (piano) for a programme of music by three leading British composers from the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth centuries, Hubert Parry, John Ireland and Hamilton Harty, and, in keeping with the conference theme, two leading European composers who, at different points in the nineteenth century, captured the British musical imagination, Felix Mendelssohn and Antonin Dvorak. Harty’s piece is an arrangement of The Repose of the Holy Family from Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, which currently exists only in manuscript, part of the extensive Harty archive at Queen’s University.
Robin Michael, Cello
Born in 1976, Robin Michael studied at the the Royal Academy of Music with David Strange and Colin Carr and subsequently with Truls Mork, Steven Isserlis and Ferenc Rados. Following a critically acclaimed South Bank recital debut in 2003 he has been much in demand as soloist and chamber musician.
Robin is principal cello of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and regular guest principal of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Baroque Soloists, Academy of Ancient Music and Soloists of Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Robin also devotes much of his time to contemporary music and has worked with composers such as Ligeti, Kurtag, Ferneyhough, Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle on their cello works. Recent premieres include Joe Cutler's cello concerto, the U.K. premiere of Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint as well as concertos by Roxburgh and Finnissy. Recent concert highlights include touring South Africa with both Haydn concertos, complete Bach and Britten suite cycles at Wilton's Hall, London and the Korean premiere of Harvey's Advaya for cello and electronics.
Robin is the cellist in the Fidelio trio with whom he has toured Europe, Asia and South Africa. They have premiered trios by Sciarrino, Nyman, Rolf Hind, Takemitsu and Volans. They recently gave a critically acclaimed Wigmore Hall debut and make their US debut in New York and Washington in the 2010/11 season. He also appears regularly with chamber groups such as the Dante Quartet, Eroica Quartet, Nash Ensemble, Gemini, Lontano and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Recent festival appearances include Regello (Italy), Ochrid (Macedonia), Musica Contemporania (Buenos Aires), Spier (South Africa), Huddersfield Festival and Library of Congress (Washington). Recent collaborations include projects with musicians such as Ronald Brautigham, Dave Holland and soprano Sarah Leonard.
Recordings include the Cutler Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra (NMC records), Ginastera complete cello works (Lorelt), Hallgrimsson chamber works (Delphian), 'Bulb' a disc of contemporary Irish piano trios (NMC) and Dorothy Ker's solo cello works (Lorelt). Forthcoming recordings include Schoenberg, Korngold and Zemlinksy trios for Naxos, Michael Nyman trios for his own label and Phil Cashian's concerto.
Robin plays a Vincenzo Panormo cello c.1791.
Huw Watkins, Piano
Huw Watkins was born in Wales in 1976. He studied piano with Peter Lawson at Chetham’s School of Music and composition with Robin Holloway, Alexander Goehr and Julian Anderson at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. In 2001 he was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, where he now teaches composition.
In 1999 the Nash Ensemble gave the first performance of Watkins’ Sonata for Cello and Eight Instruments, a Faber Music Millennium commission. The piece has been performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in London, Paris, Copenhagen and Aldeburgh under the direction of Sakari Oramo and Peter Rundel.
In 2000 the BBC National Orchestra of Wales gave the first performance of Watkins’ Sinfonietta under Grant Llewellyn. As a result of this collaboration, his Piano Concerto was commissioned for the same orchestra, which received its premiere in May 2002 under Martyn Brabbins with the composer at the piano. The work will be performed again in BBC NOW’s 2007/08 season and will recorded for release on NMC Records along with his Double Concerto for viola and cello (a BBC Proms commission from 2005) and chamber works performed by BCMG including Rondo, a work they commissioned and premiered under Susanna Mälkki in 2005.
The 2001/02 season saw Watkins’ first US commission - Nocturne for solo horn and chamber orchestra - which was first performed and recorded by David Jolley and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra under Mischa Santora. 2005 saw two major orchestral works: London Concerto, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra to mark its centenary and his Double Concerto performed by Philip Dukes (viola), Josephine Knight (cello) and BBC NOW conducted by Jac van Steen at the Proms.
Chamber music has always been central to Watkins’ output: in 2001 his String Quartet No. 2 was premiered at the Cheltenham Festival by the Petersen Quartet, and the Brahms Ensemble Hamburg gave the first performance of his Variations on a Schubert Song at the Gstaad Festival. He recorded his Cello Sonata with Paul Watkins for Nimbus Records and premiered Fantasy for viola and piano with Lawrence Power in 2006.
His String Quartet No. 3 was written for the Belcea Quartet, who gave its premiere at Wigmore Hall in February 2004. The Wigmore Hall has been the venue for many of Watkins’ recent premieres: the Nash Ensemble premiered their commission Gig in 2005, Alina Ibragimova gave the world premiere of Partita for solo violin during BBC Radio 3’s lunchtime concert series in 2006, and more recently, In My Craft or Sullen Art (Goodison Quartet No. 4) for tenor and string quartet was premiered in the hall by Mark Padmore and the Petersen Quartet in May 2007.
Huw Watkins is also in great demand as a pianist. He is regularly heard on BBC Radio 3, both as a soloist and with artists such as Alina Ibragimova, Daniel Hope, Nicholas Daniel, and Alexandra Wood. He has a strong commitment to the performance of new music, and has given premieres of works by Alexander Goehr, Peter Maxwell Davies and Mark-Anthony Turnage. He has performed concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra of the Swan as well as being the Britten Sinfonia’s pianist. He has recorded Thomas Adès’ song cycle The Lover in Winter with the countertenor Robin Blaze for EMI Classics and his recording of contemporary British music for violin and piano with Alexandra Wood was released on Usk in 2005. His latest disc is a performance of the piano cycle Symmetry Disorders Reach by Alexander Goehr, for Wergo.
Future commissions include his first chamber opera (for Music Theatre Wales where he is Jerwood Associate Composer), works for the Aronowitz Ensemble and Ensemble 360, and a piano trio for The Florestan Trio.