Dr Michael Ward
Founder/Director - British Georgian Music Academy
Pianist - Solo, Accompanist, Chamber Music, Orchestral
Conductor - Orchestral, Choral, Opera, Music Theatre, Band
Composer, Arranger, Orchestrator
Adjudicator, Examiner, Music Juror
Music Educator, Visiting ProfessorQualifications/Awards
1981 - L.R.A.M (Piano) Royal Academy of Music,
1982 - B.Mus Hons 2:1 Sheffield University
1983 - P.G.C.E (Music) Credit in Teaching Birmingham University
1985 - Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship National Award for Excellence in
(Piano Performance) Piano Performance
1992 - Joint First Prize International Musician of the
Year Competition, Auckland,
2001 - PhD (Musical Composition) Leeds University
DR MICHAEL WARD - MUSICAL BIOGRAPHY
Dr Michael Ward wrote his first musical composition when he was 7 years old; gave his first public piano recital aged 9; conducted his first major symphony concert whilst still only 16. In a career that spans some
30 years of professional music making at an international level he has maintained his interest in all three areas of music making as well as passing his knowledge and skills on to countless of his students, many of whom have international careers themselves. He is very proud to have founded in 2017, together with his wife the celebrated Georgian concert pianist Ketevan Ward (formerly Ketevan Asatashvili), the British Georgian Music Academy. Whilst both are now based in London they retain their roles as joint Directors.
Michael’s schedule is extremely full: with a very large repertoire, ranging from pre-Baroque to post-Modern music, he is regularly in demand both in the UK and abroad and has given concerts in many leading concert venues. In addition Michael has made commercial recordings for Chandos, Doyen and Wilco Records as well as giving numerous broadcasts on both BBC and Independent radio and television.
As a concert pianist, Michael has also given many recitals, concerto performances and chamber music concerts throughout the UK and abroad. With over thirty years of professional music experience as a recitalist and concerto soloist, Michael Ward is a pianist of outstanding gifts. In possession of a prodigious virtuoso technique, deep musical insight and thorough understanding of all the music he performs, Michael is in total command of his art and he uses all his considerable musical and pianistic skills to communicate the music he plays in a sincere and genuine manner to every member of his audience.
Michael gave his first public piano recital aged 9 and after a period of study with the celebrated pianist Danielle Salamon he won the International Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship for excellence in piano performance which resulted in two years study in London with Vera Yelverton. During this time he was offered recitals and concerto performances throughout the UK and consequently Michael was invited to study the piano works of Franz Liszt privately with the famous Hungarian concert pianist Louis Kentner.
Throughout his career, in addition to his concert activities as a soloist, Michael's skills as a piano accompanist and chamber musician have been much sought after by countless instrumentalists, singers and chamber ensembles in music from Baroque to the present day. As a consequence, in all three roles Michael has amassed a vast repertoire and he has given concerts throughout the world in many of the most prestigious venues as well as making numerous commercial recordings and playing for both Radio and Television broadcasts in the UK and abroad.
Throughout his early conducting career Michael was guided by several highly regarded international figures including Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Charles Groves and Claudio Abbado. Following on from this he studied conducting with Adrian Leaper and then the late Lawrence Leonard (a pupil of both Eric Kleiber and Ernest Ansermet), piano with Danielle Salamon and the internationally renowned pianist Louis Kentner and following this Michael was invited by both Sir Simon Rattle and Raphael Frubeck de Bourgos to attend their rehearsals with the CBSO and LSO.
Michael had already conducted numerous orchestras, choirs and opera companies in Britain and abroad when he was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in 1990. It was at this time that he was fortunate both to be invited to spend time shadowing Yan Pascal Tortelier (at that time Principal Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and come into contact with the composer and conductor Luciano Berio. In 1991 he was one of only two British conductors invited to participate in the prestigious Besançon International Competition and in the same year he had a similar invitation from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in their search for young conducting talent. Soon after he undertook a tour to Australia and New Zealand where, at the same time he won joint first prize in the 1992 International Musician of the Year Competition held in Auckland.
After a period of study with the renowned English composer Philip Wilby, Michael was awarded a PhD in composition. In 1995, under the auspices of The Park Lane Group, his ‘Night Piece’ for Brass Quintet was given its world premiere by Onyx Brass at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank and in April of that year he conducted the world premiere of his 1st Symphony, commissioned by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra: another piece, ‘Music for an Imaginary Film’ was premiered by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in December 2000. In 1997 he completed a concerto for the internationally renowned horn player David Pyatt. Other works include a String Quartet, given its first performance in 1998 by the Sorrell Quartet, a Piano Sonata premiered in 1999 by the composer as well as ‘Paean’ for massive orchestral forces, soloists and chorus. His ‘Theatre Music’ for small orchestra and ‘Fire’ a ballet were both premiered in York in 2003. Whilst in 2004 he was asked to write pieces for the young Czech violin virtuoso Jiri Vodicka and internationally renowned Russian Concert Organist, Ekaterina Melnikova, who gave the Russian premiere of his piece ‘Shoah’ in Moscow during 2005.
FURTHER MUSICAL EXPERIENCE
Michael's vast experience includes having worked with over 50 orchestras, choirs and opera companies including musicians from BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, English National Opera, Opera North, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera. And he has given concerts at many of the major venues including RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester; Guildhall Concert Hall, London; City Hall, Sheffield; Fairfield Halls, Croydon; Free Trade Hall, Manchester; South Bank Concert Halls, London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
In 2008, after 18 years as Music Director and Principal Conductor of Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra he relinquished this post due to an increasingly demanding guest conducting schedule.
During 2003, and to critical acclaim, Michael conducted the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic. Further invitations followed including concerts in Rumania, with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Valcea, the Bucharest String Orchestra and concerts in Bulgaria. In 2005 he was engaged to make his debut in Russia with the Adygeya State Philharmonic Orchestra, in the 2006/2007 season he was invited to conduct Berlin’s Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the Philharmonie whilst in the 2007/2008 season he conducted the Bucharest Sinfonia and further engagements followed in Poland during 2009.
Commercial recording for Chandos, Doyen and Park Recordings. Live and recorded broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 plus Independent television and radio broadcasts
LINKS TO COMMERCIAL AND LIVE RECORDINGS
LISZT, BRUBECK, CHOPIN and STRAUSS - https://soundcloud.com/michaelwardmusician/albums
DUKAS, STRAUSS and MARAIS - http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Chandos/CHAN8769
MICHAEL WARD 'Reflections for Solo Oboe' - https://soundcloud.com/michaelwardmusician/sets/dr-michael-ward-reflections
QUOTES FROM OTHER MUSICIANS
'Michael has innate abilities as a conductor, great experience as a player and real organisational skills. I have known him for many years and I have followed his career with the greatest interest – there is little doubt in my mind that he will achieve a most successful career. He is a hard and thorough worker, and has a straightforward personality that endears him to orchestras. Highly recommended.’
The late Lawrence Leonard - Internationally renowned Conductor
'Michael is determined and on the right road. With his experience one thing will surely lead to another.’
The late Claudio Abbado - Internationally renowned Conductor
‘Michael and I have performed recitals across the UK. I have also been fortunate enough to work with him as conductor in performances of Strauss and Mozart Horn Concertos. The same innate sense of phrasing, articulation and presentation which distinguishes his piano performances is present in his concerts as a conductor. When he is in front of an orchestra he treats both the music and musicians with the utmost respect. This coupled with a sound technical knowledge of music and technique lends his concerts a real sense of occasion. It is a rare privilege to meet such a distinguished and unpretentious musician. I have always admired Michael’s commitment to music and he continues to inspire those with whom he comes into contact.’
David Pyatt - International French Horn Virtuoso and Principal Horn with the London Philharmonic Orchestra
‘Michael is an accomplished musician. As a conductor he gives firm direction yet handles his players with tact and understanding. I believe he will go far as a conductor. He is thorough in preparation, is dedicated in his work, and his seriousness is offset by a most acceptable sense of humour.’
The late Martin Milner OBE - Internationally renowned Orchestral Leader of Halle Orchestra
‘Michael is a first-rate musician. He is active as both a conductor and a pianist throughout the UK and Europe. He is an indefatigable worker and never fails to motivate others by example. He also has great presence therefore, in a concert situation he able to draw the attention of both audience and orchestra to focus intensely on the music…. Allied to a highly developed skill in balancing orchestral sounds, Michael, through a combination of intellect and instinct never fails to give exciting results….Michael has a wide musical knowledge, an ability to bring the best out in his players and a fine conducting technique.’
Trevor Green – CEO/Deputy Chair of Leeds International Piano Competition; Former Managing Director of The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
‘Michael is an accomplished conductor, who allows a soloist the flexibility to be spontaneous, whilst always ensuring solid support from the orchestra. He really encourages the whole orchestra to rise to the occasion in concerts, and certainly enables all the musicians involved to give of their very best. It is a pleasure working with him.’
Alexandra Wood - International Concert Violinist
‘Michael is very pleasant to work with, knows his scores most thoroughly, rehearses efficiently and obviously has an excellent rapport with the orchestra. I recommend him strongly.’
Martin Roscoe - International Concert Pianist
‘I feel we may have another Rattle!’
The late Sir Charles Groves - Internationally renowned Conductor
(Performance of music by Grieg, Wilmslow Rex Theatre, Wilmslow Opera Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra, Manchester, UK 1981)
“This was the first concert in which the orchestra was led by its new conductor Michael Ward. His work with the orchestra has produced a very musical and exciting sound.”
(Performances of Bizet, Parry, Wood, Elgar, Strauss & Mussorgsky, Winding Wheel Concert Hall, Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra, Chesterfield, UK 1990)
“The performance contained moments of musical magic.”
(Performances of Debussy, Mozart, Holst & Elgar, Winding Wheel Concert Hall, Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra, Chesterfield, UK 1992)
“…outstanding prowess…an excellent performance by Michael Ward.”
(Performance of music by Michael Ward, Central Concert Hall, Auckland, New Zealand 1992)
"...great musicianship and flair for performance..."
(Performances of Mozart, Beethoven, Bruch & Haydn, Winding Wheel Concert Hall, Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra, Chesterfield, UK 1995)
"...a lean, mean Messiah...conductor Michael Ward rose wonderfully to the occasion with a slim-line, emotive and finely tuned new Messiah."
(Performance of Handel’s Messiah, Guild Hall, Cecilian Choir and Orchestra, Preston, UK 1995)
“Wonderful performance .....highly skilled and with great sympathy for the music.”
(Performances of music by Beethoven, Lalo & Schumann, Dum Umeni Concert Hall, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra, Zlin, Czech Republic 2003)
“Dr Michael Ward’s talents and achievements are legion….Musical excellence….the sheer enjoyment of music.”
(Performances of Mozart, Rossini, Mussorgsky & Shostakovich, Winding Wheel Concert Hall, Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra, Chesterfield, UK 2004)
“The British conductor Michael Ward seems to have total communication with both his musicians and the audience. He is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and talented international maestros to have conducted in Bucharest for many, many years.”
(Performances of music by Mozart, Saint-Saens & Beethoven, Cultural Institute Concert Hall, Bucharest Sinfonia, Bucharest, Rumania, 2005)
“Che un delizia! …musicale , pieno di bellezza e energia.” (“What a delight! ...musical, full of beauty and energy.”)
(Performances of music by Vivaldi and Warlock, Basilica of SS. Giovanni e Paulo, Poston Sinfonia and Choir, Venice, Italy 2007)