Belfast-born Michael McHale is one of Ireland’s leading pianists. Since completing his studies at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, he has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.
He has performed at many important musical centres including Suntory Hall, Tokyo; Lincoln Center, New York; Symphony Hall, Boston; Konzerthaus, Berlin; Pesti Vigadó, Budapest, and the Ushuaia, Chopiniana and Tanglewood Festivals.
Michael’s début solo album ‘The Irish Piano’ was selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by critic Norman Lebrecht, who described it as “a scintillating recital…fascinating from start to stop”, whilst Gramophone praised “the singing sensibility of McHale’s sensitive and polished pianism”.
He has performed as soloist with the Hallé, Minnesota, Bournemouth Symphony and Moscow Symphony orchestras, the Teatro Colon Orchestra, Discovery Ensemble, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras in repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov.
A commitment to new music has seen Michael give first performances and recordings of music by composers including Arvo Pärt, Valentin Silvestrov, John Tavener, Luke Bedford and Ian Wilson, as well as concerto world premières by Irish composers Garrett Sholdice (with Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Irish Chamber Orchestra) and Philip Hammond (with Nicholas Collon and the Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio 3).
His début solo recitals in the Wigmore Hall, London, the National Concert Hall, Dublin, and the Phillips Collection, Washington DC received great public and critical acclaim, with the Washington Post praising his “bravura playing in the music of Franz Liszt” and his “beautifully proportioned and energetic account of Mozart’s Sonata in C minor, K.457”.
2015 saw the release of a second solo CD, ‘Miniatures and Modulations’, of music by Philip Hammond on the Grand Piano label (awarded a 5* review by BBC Music) and a disc of clarinet sonatas by Brahms and Reinecke with Michael Collins for Chandos (Editor’s Choice in Gramophone).
Upcoming projects include a first concerto CD recording with the RTÉ NSO and conductor Courtney Lewis, return visits to Camerata Pacifica and Wigmore Hall, London, solo and chamber music recital tours in Ireland and the UK, and a concerto début with Jacksonville Symphony in Florida.
In addition to winning the 2009 Terence Judd/Hallé Award, Michael was awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition and the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award. His teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas.
Michael enjoys chamber music collaborations with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario and the Vogler Quartet.