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Leon McCawley

  • Pianist


In 2006 Leon McCawley made his New York recital debut at the Frick Collection, praised by the New York Times as a “lyrical, heartfelt performance”. Other highly acclaimed recitals have been given at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (International Piano Series), Wigmore Hall in London (London Piano Series), Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin, Kumho Recital Hall in Seoul. Miami International Piano Festival, Musikverein in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, Kennedy Center Washington DC and the Tonhalle in Zurich. In 2010 McCawley debuts at Lincoln Center, New York and at Hong Kong Arts Festival and returns for the fourth time to the International Piano Series in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. He can be frequently heard on BBC Radio 3 both in performance and interview.

As a concerto soloist, McCawley performs with many of the leading British orchestras including the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Hallé and Ulster Orchestras. He made his fifth appearance at BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2009 performing Finzi's Grand Fantasia and Toccata with BBC Philharmonic and Vassily Sinaisky. Further afield, McCawley has made concerto appearances with, amongst others, Adelaide Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Malaysian Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Vienna Symphony and worked with conductors such as Mark Elder, Daniele Gatti, Paavo Järvi, Andrew Litton, Kurt Masur, Gianandrea Noseda, Sakari Oramo and Simon Rattle. In July 2008 McCawley returned with great acclaim to the Philadelphia Orchestra, praised as ‘a master of tone and articulation’ by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In 1993, when just 19, Leon McCawley won First Prize in the Ninth International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and Second Prize in the Leeds International Competition, building on his earlier success in 1990 as the winner of the Piano Section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. McCawley studied at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester with Heather Slade-Lipkin before continuing his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia with Eleanor Sokoloff. He also worked closely with Nina Milkina in London.

A keen chamber musician, he has enjoyed fruitful collaborations with a range of ensembles and musicians including the Brodsky and Emperor Quartets, Michael Collins and David Pyatt at many prestigious concert venues including BBC Proms Chamber Series, BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Series at the Wigmore Hall and Brighton, Cheltenham and Edinburgh festivals.

McCawley’s discography includes: Barber's Complete Piano Music (EMI/Virgin); Beethoven: Piano Works (Sanctuary Classics); Schumann: Piano Music (Avie Records) selected as "Editor's Choice" in Gramophone; The Complete Piano Works of Hans Gál (Avie), also a Gramophone "Editor's Choice"; The Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas (Avie); Beethoven’s 9th Symphony arranged by Liszt for Two Pianos (Naxos Records) with Ashley Wass; Ronald Corp's Piano Concerto with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Ronald Corp (Dutton Epoch); and his latest disc of Chopin's Piano Music will be released by Somm Records in December 2010.

Leon McCawley is professor of piano at London's Royal College of Music. He is married to the fine-art painter Anna Hyunsook Paik.