Surrey Mozart Players

Saturday 21 November 2020 - The Menuhin Hall, Stoke D'Abernon : 7.30pm

Re-scheduled from original date of ... Saturday 21 March 2020

James Brawn ... Piano Soloist

Since his Mozart K.503 concerto debut in Australia aged twelve, pianist James Brawn has forged his own musical path of discovery, studying with great pianists who can trace their pedagogical lineage back to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Clara Schumann.

Brawn was born in England but has lived around the world in New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. Starting piano lessons at the age of seven, he performed on New Zealand television and won his first awards in Auckland in 1979. His family moved to Melbourne the following year where his musical studies blossomed through the 1980s with Margaret Schofield (a pupil of Solomon), Ronald Farren-Price (a pupil of Arrau) and Rita Reichman (a pupil of Serkin and Horszowski). He also won major prizes at competitions and scholarships, including the Hephzibah Menuhin Award presented by Yehudi Menuhin. While still at school, James performed concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Rachmaninoff. He also reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards in 1987, leading to concerts with the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony orchestras.

With a major overseas study grant from the Australia Arts Council, Brawn was then able to continue work with his mentor, Rita Reichman, in Philadelphia, gaining a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, at the age of 17 in 1988. There he studied with Frank Wibaut and Christopher Elton, completing both undergraduate and postgraduate study and winning many recital awards including the Beethoven, Romantic and 20th century prizes. He also performed in master classes with great pianists such as András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry, Stephen Kovacevich, Fou Ts’ong and Menahem Pressler. James studied chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Chilingirian Quartets and attended the Britten-Pears and Lake District summer schools. At the age of 19, he won the Keyboard final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

Recitals as soloist and in chamber music partnerships followed at music societies and festivals around the UK, including performances at the Purcell Room, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. James's Piccadilly. At this point, James furthered his studies with the Armenian pianist, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, and the Slovenian pianist, Marina Horak.

His London performances to date include, amongst others, the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St James's Piccadilly, St.Martin-in-the-Fields, the Foundling Museum, Blackheath Halls, Regent Hall and The Forge. Overseas recitals include the Berlioz Auditorium, Paris, Roussel Hall, New Orleans, Shanghai Symphony Hall, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Shanghai Concert Hall, music societies in Brunei and Hong Kong and in Ragusa-Ibla, Sicily. Other important British venues include Cheltenham Town Hall, Yehudi Menuhin Hall, Chichester, Bristol and Birmingham Cathedrals and Brawn performs regularly for the Helensburgh Music Society. He has also given recitals for the Schubert Society of Britain and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. Radio broadcasts include ABC Classic FM and 3MBS radio in Australia, RTHK Radio 4, Hong Kong and his Beethoven recordings are being played on NPR stations across the USA.

Returning to the UK in 2010 to further his career, Brawn is based in the beautiful English Cotswolds. Forging links with the acclaimed producer Jeremy Hayes at Potton Hall, Suffolk, he began the process of performing and recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas in April 2012. As a result, the first four volumes of 'A Beethoven Odyssey' have since been released to exceptional reviews. The first 2 volumes of the James Brawn 'In Recital' series have also been greeted to similar acclaim. Each of these recordings is available on the MSR Classics label – www.msrcd.com.

Beginning in 2016, Brawn was appointed to the piano faculty of the FaceArt Institute of Music Shanghai. This coming season Mr Brawn will tour the UK, China and Canada in recital and concerto performances. James Brawn is a Steinway Artist.

Gonzalo Acosta....... Guest Conductor

Uruguayan born Gonzalo Acosta is an accomplished professional violinist, teacher and conductor. He has played in many of the leading orchestras and has also performed as a soloist and member of the Dussek Piano Trio.

For 13 years Gonzalo was a professor and Orchestral Coach at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and recently has moved to the Guildhall School of Music as Conductor and violin teacher. He coaches regularly for youth orchestras and has adjudicated for the BBC Young Musician competition.

Alongside his playing and teaching, Gonzalo’s conducting commitments continue to increase. Between 2008 and 2010 Gonzalo was Head of Strings at the Latymer Upper School, conducting the Chamber Orchestra. He has also conducted Full String rehearsals at RCMJD, RCM and RAM. He has been Assistant Conductor of the English Schools Orchestra, conductor of the Kent County Youth Orchestra and conducts the London Repertoire Orchestra regularly. Other guest conducting includes the Kingston Philharmonia, Watford Symphony Orchestra and the Trinity Orchestra. He has conducted The Mikado and Iolanthe (Gilbert & Sullivan) at Sullivan’s house in North London. In the Summer of 2016 Gonzalo won First Prize in the London 2016 Conducting Masterclass. He was recently Assistant Conductor to Simone Young with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.