Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, and recordings as soloist with the London Symphony, BBC Symphony and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestras. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and eight duo recital albums on Chandos with Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio Portraits on Cedille featuring special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali was released in 2017 and immediately entered the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Upcoming releases in 2020 include a recording of Richard Rodney Bennett's Piano Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Wilson for Chandos.
Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and his teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas. In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed as a part-time professor of piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Cork School of Music in Ireland. Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Dame Felicity Lott and Camerata Pacifica.
Regarded as one of Ireland’s most outstanding musicians, international award winning violinist Patrick Rafter has performed extensively throughout Europe, South America, Asia and the Middle East as Concert Violinist and chamber musician, and currently studies under Maxim Vengerov and Oleg Kaskiv at the International Menuhin Music Academy Switzerland. Born into an exceptionally musical family in Kilkenny, Ireland, Patrick quickly became recognized as a prodigious talent after winning all age divisions for string instruments at the mere age of 12 in the Kilkenny Music Festival and went on to receive a full scholarship to study at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM). Patrick studied from 2003-2005 with Eyal Kless and subsequently with Fionnuala Hunt from 2005-2011. During his time at the RIAM, he won all conservatoire string competitions, whilst also winning national awards such as the Arthur Nachstern Bursary.
At 17, Patrick was the winner of all 3 senior competitions at the Dublin R.D.S Feis Ceoil – Ireland’s most prestigious music festival, whilst also being awarded the highest ever mark of 99% in the Arthur Caterall Cup. In 2009, he became the inaugural winner of the National Concert Hall Young Musician of the Year award, and that year was also awarded the Arthur Gillespie award for ‘most outstanding and promising musician’ at the International Clandeboye Festival. In 2010, he was awarded the Camerata Ireland Young Musician of the Year and in subsequent years was awarded 1st prize in over 10 competitions in the British Isles. In 2015, he was made winner of the coveted RDS Music Bursary Winner.
Internationally, Patrick was awarded 1st prize at the 2016 Valiant International Violin Competition in Switzerland, and also 1st prize at the 2016 London Performing Arts Festival. Throughout the past years his debuts and performances have taken place in some of the worlds most prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall London, Berlin Konzerthaus, CCK Buenos Aires, the Arts Centre, Soeul and Concertgebouw Amsterdam. Patrick has also performed for the former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, accompanied by his mother, at the Aras and on RTE 1’s New Year’s Day Presidential Address.
In 2011 Patrick was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) London, where he graduated with first class honors. In 2013 he made his debut as a soloist with the RAM string Orchestra in Dukes Hall, and was also selected as a member of the RAM’s elite string ensemble ‘Sainsbury Royal Academy Soloists’ with whom he made his Wigmore Hall debut in January 2015. During his time at the RAM, Patrick was a recipient of a host of awards including the Foundation Award, the Sir Curtis Price Award, Roger and Sarah Bancroft Award and the J E Reckitt Award.
In October 2015, Patrick was personally invited to study under Maxim Vengerov at the International Menuhin Music Academy (IMMA), Switzerland and has performed as soloist and concertmaster with IMMA’s chamber ensemble the Menuhin Academy Soloists.
During his career, Patrick has studied with and performed alongside some of the greatest performers and teachers in the world today, including Maxim Vengerov, Schlomo Mintz, Barry Douglas, John O’Conor, Igor Ozim, Serjei Krylov, Reiner Honeck, Maurizio Fucs and Graf Mourja. He has also worked with some of the leading composers of the world today, such as Arvo Part, and performed with some of the greatest conductors including Semyon Bychkov, Marin Alsop, Sir Mark Elder and Gianedra Noseda. Alongside his father, Patrick has also had the chance to work with some of the world’s leading operatic conductors such as Massimilliano Bullo.
As a conductor himself, Patrick has directed the RTE Concert Orchestra in the finals of the RDS Feis Ceoil and has taken choral masterclasses with distinguished names such as Zoltan Pad and Volker Hempfling.
Patrick has been broadcast on international television and radio throughout the world, with major broadcasts in Ireland, UK, Argentina, Peru, Macedonia, Turkey, Japan, China, South Korea. He is regularly featured on Irish Radio and television, notably on RTE 1’s ‘Nationwide’ with his family and on RTE 2’s ‘Classic Jam’.
In Patrick’s hometown of Kilkenny, he was awarded ‘Kilkenny Person of the Year’ and returns to give sell out concerts alongside his family. Patrick is incredibly grateful to play on a Georges Chanot violin kindly supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. He is proud to be an ambassador of Musafia Cases of Cremona, Italy. His violin is housed in a beautiful Master Series Violin Case.