Piano Festival 2012 Faculty
Acclaimed for the immediacy, sensitivity and depth of his interpretations, Sergei Babayan’s performances reveal an emotional intensity and bold energy, equipping him to explore stylistically diverse repertoire. He is known for his innovative programming, often including modern works by composers such as Lutoslawsky, Ligeti and Arvo Pärt, and extending the boundaries of mainstream repertoire for which he continues to be acclaimed, excelling in Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann as much as the Russian heritage of Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Prokofiev. His philosophy that a recital should reveal a spiritual dimension, results in playing which sustains an intensity that never fails to captivate. His performances of J S Bach have always gained him both public and critical acclaim, and he firmly believes that the natural evolution of the keyboard instrument has led to today’s modern piano which allows the music to be fully expressed in this modern incarnation.
performs widely as pianist and accompanist, working with many leading singers, instrumentalists and chamber ensembles in concerts, broadcasts, and recordings throughout Europe, North America and the Far East. He has accompanied singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Susan Bullock, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Jonas Kaufmann, Dame Felicity Lott, Ian Partridge, Toby Spence, Bryn Terfel, Roderick Williams and many others. He is a Professor at the Royal College of Music and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. Christopher has devised programmes for the Wigmore Hall and the National Portrait Gallery and in 2010 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Ryedale Festival. In 2011/12 Christopher will also curate a concert series entitled ‘The Songs of Ravel and his circle’ for the Wigmore Hall.
was born into a distinguished musical family and grew up in Switzerland, going on to study at the Juilliard School in New York. With his formidable technique and musicality, he was quickly recognised as a pianist of the first rank. Engagements with major US orchestras followed swiftly – the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestras among them. As a recitalist and chamber musician, Haefliger excels in finding the most immediate expression with the Guardian describing him as “…one to take risks, which makes him a fascinating artist”. As a prolific recording artist Haefliger has appeared on numerous high profile disks. After the enormous success of his first recording of Mozart Sonatas for Sony Classical, Haefliger made three further recordings for Sony of Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze and Fantasiestücke, Schubert Impromptus, and a disc of music by the distinguished contemporary Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina.
was a scholar and prizewinner at the Royal Academy of Music. She has had a very active career which has taken her all over the world, and given her a wide experience of both solo and concerto playing, chamber music and Lieder accompaniment. She has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room and toured throughout Britain, Canada, Europe the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, also giving masterclasses, lectures and teaching. Ruth is a Fellow and former Professor of the Royal Academy of Music and is a tutor on the Kent and North London International Piano Courses. She has been an examiner and mentor for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and is also in much demand as an adjudicator. Ruth was elected Warden of the Private Teachers Section of the Incorporated Society of Musicians in 1992/93 and was appointed MBE in the New Year Honours List 2007 for services to music.
Having enjoyed considerable recognition as a concert pianist in England and abroad, Joan Havill was invited to join the staff of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama during the 1980’s. She was awarded a Fellowship in 1986 and given the title of Senior Professor of Piano in 1996. In her youth she was greatly influenced by the teaching of Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Louis Kentner in London and she endeavours to continue that great line of pedagogy. In recent years she has gained worldwide recognition as a teacher and her students have featured amongst the major prizewinners of leading international piano competitions in the world.
studied with Cyril Smith, Ilona Kabos and Maria Curcio. He was still a student when Bernard Haitink invited him to play Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This successful debut was followed by further appearances with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic and other major orchestras at the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Following his pioneering survey of the complete piano works of Josef Suk, he has recently embarked on a similar series devoted to the output of Vítìslav Novák, also on the Meridian label. Niel Immelman’s teaching career is equally distinguished: he is Professor of Piano at the Royal College of Music and he has given masterclasses in Helsinki, Melbourne, Moscow, Vienna and Warsaw. He regularly serves on juries of international competitions.
was born in Riga into a well-known family of musicians. She commenced her studies of music and piano at the age of five at the E Darzins Special Music School in Riga, and played her concerto debut at the age of 11 with the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vassily Sinaisky. In 1994 Diana continued her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Christopher Elton. She graduated in 1996, receiving the Dip RAM and in 1996/97, and in 2000/01, Diana was awarded the Hodgson Piano Fellowship at the Academy. Diana has appeared as a soloist with the major European orchestras at some of the world’s most prestigious venues with her performances being broadcast on radio and television prolifically. Since 2003 Diana has been Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music.
was born in 1980 in Moscow, Russia. He started playing the piano aged 5 and his parents enrolled him at the famous Gnessin Special School of Music. Such a prestigious start catapulted him into the world of professional performance with debuts at many orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, at both the Avery Fisher Hall and for the inaugural concert of the Bethel Woods Arts Centre, with critics writing about his “lyricism, which he couched in a thoughtfully shaped, singing line. … When he addressed the barnstorming passages on their own terms, he did so with a steely edge and ample — if thoroughly controlled — force”. Alexander has also always felt that there is a very special connection between teaching and self-development, believing the two to be integrally linked: the exchange of experience, musicianship and emotion always being at the forefront of his priorities as a performer. He now divides his time between performing around the world and teaching.
At age of five, Haochen Zhang had already made a successful debut recital, performing all 15 Bach Two Part Inventions, Haydn and Mozart Sonatas. This extraordinarily early start was followed by other incredible feats such as a debut with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra a year later, twice winning the Shanghai Piano Competition before the age of ten and finally at age of eighteen in October 2008, making his Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has also won the Gold Medal in the Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, becoming the first Asian artist, as well as one of the youngest, in the history of this competition to do so. He is a force to be reckoned with, and his rise as one of the world’s great pianists is being eagerly documented.
John Lill’s extensive experience includes performing seventy concertos in more than fifty countries, 30 BBC Promenade concerts and tours with the UK’s finest orchestras. At only eighteen he performed Rachmaninov’s 3rd Piano Concerto under Sir Adrian Boult, followed by his much-acclaimed London debut at the Royal Festival Hall, and in 1970 he won the Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition. He continues today this extraordinary career with concerts and recordings across the world - his most recent being the 60th birthday release of piano works by Schumann. John Lill has been awarded eight Honorary Doctorates from British universities as well as several Fellowships from the leading musical colleges and academies. He was awarded the OBE in 1977 and the CBE for his services to music in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List.
is the Festival’s Artistic Director. Since his London debut in 1974, his career as pianist and conductor has been world-wide. Apart from the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas which Marios is currently recording, his prolific output as a recording artist includes performances of Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, works by Mozart for a Readers’ Digest album, works by Mussorgsky – including Pictures at an Exhibition – piano works by César Franck and the 24 Preludes and Fugues by Shostakovich. In 1998 he founded the Oxford Philomusica, Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford, of which he is Music Director. He holds a doctorate in music from City University and is a Fellow by Special Election of Keble College, Oxford and an Honorary Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
founding member and pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, has established himself among the world’s most distinguished and honoured musicians, with a career that spans over five decades. Now in his 87th year, he continues to captivate audiences throughout the world as performer and pedagogue, performing solo and chamber music recitals to great critical acclaim while maintaining a dedicated and robust teaching career. As illustrious as a teacher as a performer, Professor Pressler has been hailed as “Master Pedagogue” and has had prize-winning students in all of the major international piano competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth, Busoni, Rubenstein, Leeds and Van Cliburn competitions among many others. In addition to teaching his private students at Indiana University, he presents masterclasses throughout the world, and continues to serve on the jury of many major international piano competitions.
studied piano, harpsichord and piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy and Royal College of Music with Lamar Crowson and John Lill, and later in Italy with Maria Tipo and Guido Agosti. She has performed widely in the UK, giving performances at London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, and making recordings for BBC Radio 3 and the World Service. Tessa currently teaches at The Royal Academy of Music and at The Purcell School. Her outstanding skills as a teacher are reflected in the numerous successes of her students – winning many prizes at national and international level, and performing at such prestigious venues as The Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall and Regent’s Hall. Tessa Nicholson combines her teaching career with regular performances at home and abroad.