Category Archives: Piano

Iain Ledingham

Iain played for the choir during its Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle concert in March 2011.

Iain Ledingham

Iain Ledingham gained a degree in music at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar. He subsequently studied piano, harpsichord and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. He was appointed a Professor of Piano there in 1981 and was awarded a Fellowship for the academic year 1983-1984.

He has broadcast frequently on BBC Radio 3 as an accompanist for singers and instrumentalists and has accompanied many recitals for music clubs both here and abroad. Artists he has accompanied in recitals and broadcasts include: the singers Alison Hargan, Faith Wilson, Annabel Hunt, Patricia Rozario, David James, Maldwyn Davies, Jacek Strauch and Mark Wildman, flautist Richard Dobson, oboist Keith Marshall and violinist Paul Manley.

In 1981 he joined the music staff of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and has played harpsichord continuo for a number of productions there with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, including Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in Glyndebourne’s 50th anniversary season. In 1984 he made his Queen Elizabeth Hall debut in harpsichord concertos by Bach.

He formed the South Bucks Choral Society in 1980 and has performed many major choral works with that society and with the Thames Chamber Orchestra and subsequently the Amersham Festival Chamber Orchestra including The Creation, Elijah, Messiah, Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Verdi’s Requiem.

From 2000-2003 he was Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, responsible for planning and overseeing the first two years of the Academy’s new opera course, Royal Academy Opera. The course rapidly achieved an excellent reputation, attracting outstandingly talented young singers from far and wide. During that time he conducted performances of Falstaff (at the RAM) and Le Nozze di Figaro (in the 2002 Amersham Festival of Music) with singers from Royal Academy Opera as well as preparing students to work with distinguished guest conductors including Sir Charles Mackerras. In 2003 Iain returned to full-time work as a coach, pianist and conductor, and is greatly enjoying working with many young singers and accompanists at the RAM. In November 2003 he conducted performances of Haydn’s delightful comedy Il Mondo della Luna and more recently in November 2005 Mozart’s remarkable early opera La Finta Giardiniera both for Royal Academy Opera.

Costas Fotopoulos

Costas played with the choir during its Rachmaninov Vespers concert in June 2007.

Costas Fotopoulos, Piano

Costas is based in London and works internationally as a concert and silent film pianist, and as a composer and arranger for film, the stage and the concert hall. He studied as a solo concert pianist at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Juilliard School, and he has given many solo and chamber performances in this country as well as in Austria, Italy, America, Australia and New Zealand. He has recorded repertoire for BBC Radio, as well as the piano solo work, Cross hands, for a CD of music by British composer Nicholas Sackman, released on the Metier label.

Costas regularly provides live improvisations to silent films at the National Film Theatre and he has also accompanied films in New York, Warsaw and northern Italy. Recently, he provided a piano improvisation to sections of the Budget Speech, aired on BBC Radio 4.

For more information about Costas please visit his website.

Michael Higgins

Michael regularly performs with the Cantate Choir.

Michael Higgins, Piano

Michael Higgins studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire, later specialising in piano accompaniment and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with Julius Drake and Iain Ledingham. He has performed in master classes given by Clifford Benson, Thomas Hampson, Rudolf Jansen, Bryce Morrison and Udo Reinemann. Michael also studied organ with Andrew Fletcher and was Organ Scholar at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Chad, Birmingham.

Abroad, Michael has performed with singers and instrumentalists in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. He performs regularly throughout the United Kingdom and has worked with the National Youth Choirs and National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, Midland Festival Chorus, Royal Academy Opera and the Royal Ballet School. In the past year Michael has made a successful return visit to New Zealand to lead workshops for choral accompanists by invitation of the New Zealand Choral Federation.

As a composer, he has answered a number of commissions, including songs for a set of educational books published in Singapore, and many of his choral and organ works are published worldwide by Kevin Mayhew Publishers.

Michael was awarded the Joseph Weingarten Memorial Trust Scholarship for 2005-06 and has recently completed his studies with Kálmán Dráfi at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.

Clifford Benson

Clifford performed with the choir in its Summer Love Songs & Jazz concert in June 2003.

I was lost in admiration for the elegance of Clifford Benson’s playing“. Gramophone

The evening’s pianist was Clifford Benson who played as if he had composed the music himself, here and in older works as well.” The Times

Clifford Benson showed himself an equally graceful and adept pianist in every style required of him.” Sunday Times

Clifford Benson, who is the pianist performing with the choir at their concerts in March 2003.
Clifford is probably unusual as a pianist, in that his career spans the whole range of the piano repertoire. He performs as a soloist in recitals and concertos, as a chamber musician with long-standing colleagues William Bennett, Trevor Wye, Levon Chilingirian and Thea King, and as an accompanist, in particular with the baritone Stephen Varcoe.

Clifford is known for his outstanding musicianship and sensitivity, his strong feeling for poetry and colour, and for the passion that he imparts in his performing and teaching.

He was born in Essex, England, and studied at the Royal College of Music with Cyril Smith and Lamar Crowson. Whilst there, he was awarded the Chopin Sonata Prize, the Geoffrey Tankard Lieder Prize for Accompaniment, and the Tagore Gold Medal as the outstanding musician of his final year. A Martin Music Fund Scholarship, awarded by the New Philharmonia Orchestra, enabled him to further his studies.

With the violinist Levon Chilingirian, he was first prize-winner in the BBC Beethoven and the Munich International Duo Competitions, which led to numerous collaborations with prestigious artists, to solo and chamber music recitals and to recordings for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM.

Clifford was the pianist for the Jacqueline du Pré masterclasses on BBC 2 television and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at the Proms. A member of the Nash Ensemble for many years, he enjoyed a wide-ranging repertoire, performing with such artists as Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt, Marion Montgomery, Sarah Walker, John Taverner and Sir Simon Rattle. He has also worked with conductors Sir Charles Mackerras, George Hurst, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Neville Marriner.

Clifford enjoys composing and has given some notable world premières of other contemporary composers, including:

  • Richard Rodney Bennett’s Three Romantic Pieces on a BBC Pebble Mill live broadcast.
  • Malcolm Lipkin’s Sonata No 4 for BBC Bristol.
  • The London première of Lipkin’s Second Violin and Piano Sonata in December 2000 with Levon Chilingirian and several first performances of works by F L Dunkin Wedd.

As a recording artist, Clifford has encompassed a whole range of styles from Mozart to the present day. Apart from his recordings for Hyperion, specialising in English music, he has covered much of the flute and piano repertoire with William Bennett and Trevor Wye, and has recorded other combinations for Chandos, CRD and Deutsche Grammophon.

Clifford currently teaches solo piano and gives piano chamber music workshops at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He has adjudicated at many music festivals, at the major colleges of music in Britain, and has been a panel member for the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Travelling for much of the year, he has given recitals and masterclasses in Europe, the Middle and Far East, the USA and Canada.

Junko Nakamura

Junko Nakamura supported Clifford Benson in the choir’s Summer Love Songs & Jazz concert in June 2003.

Junko Nakamura, Piano

Junko Nakamura was born in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan. She studied at Tokyo College of Music, graduating in 2002. Last September she was awarded a Thomas Jennings Exhibition Award to study solo and chamber music with Professor Clifford Benson at the Royal Academy of Music. In the Academy’s internal competitions, she won the Christian Carpenter Prize for the best pianoforte recital, was very highly commended as the runner-up in the Brahms Sonata Prize, and was chosen as one of the six finalists of the RAM Club Prize encompassing all instruments. The final of this is to be held later in June.