Renowned classical pianist coming to EMF

by Joe Murphy

Among the scores of accomplished musicians venturing to the Piedmont for the Eastern Music Festival is internationally acclaimed classical pianist and conductor Barry Douglas. On July 10 Douglas will perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor in Guilford College’s Dana Auditorium.

Growing up in Belfast, Ireland, Douglas studied piano, clarinet, cello and organ. As a teenager he took lessons with Felicitas LeWinter, who was a pupil of Emil von Sauer, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt; thereby making Douglas a grand-pupil of Lizst.

Douglas went on to study four years at the Royal College of Music in London and later in Paris under Russian pianist Yvegeny Malinin.

The years of practice and training served him well; in 1986 he gained international recognition when he won the gold medal in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, becoming the first non-Russian to win since 1958. Douglas previously won the bronze at the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas in 1985 and took the top prize at the Santander Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition in Spain.

Douglas has also been honored with an appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List for his services to music. Additionally he received a Fellowship from the Royal College of Music where he is Prince Consort Professor of Piano and he received a Doctorate of Music from Queens University Belfast. Douglas has collaborated and performed with a laundry list of respected international classical musicians and symphonies from Lithuania to Philadelphia, Italy to Chicago and Israel to Cleveland.

Recently Douglas has devoted much of his time to the Camerata Ireland orchestra that he founded and directs. The orchestra is entirely composed of people living in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic) or Irish people living and working abroad. With the Camerata Ireland, Douglas recorded and released a three-disc recording of the complete Piano Concertos of Mozart in 2007. The Camerata Ireland has an annual residency at the Theatre des Champs- Elysees in Paris where they perform Mozart’s concertos. They are only the second foreign orchestra to achieve that distinction. The Camerata Ireland also has the honor of being the only entirely Irish arts organization with joint patronage from the Queen of England and the President of Ireland. This past year Douglas led the group on a world tour in celebration of the orchestra’s 10th anniversary.

Douglas additionally serves as Artistic Director for the Clandeboye Festival held each August in Northern Ireland and served as Artistic Director for the International Piano Festival in Manchester in February of 2009.

Douglas is best known for his performances of large-scale Romantic works by the likes of Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky but is also known for his performances of 20th and 21st century composers like Reger, Britten, Corigliano and Penderecki. And he is a great acquisition for the festival.

wanna go? Barry Douglas Saturday July 10, 8 p.m. Dana Auditorium at Guilford College