Our past piano festivals

The New Ross Piano Festival began in 2006 – take a look back through our archive of festival highlights.


The 17th New Ross Piano Festival celebrated Rachmaninov on  his 150th birthday anniversary. It featured several aspects of his output.  The cellist Alexander Chaushian and pianist Finghin Collins performed his Vocalise ; the trio made up of Chaushian, Mirijam Contzen [violin] and Yumeka Nakagawa [piano] played his Elegiaque No 1;  Yumeka delighted the audience with his Preludes Op 23, Nos 4 and 5, and Alexander Chaushian and Yevgeny Subdin showcased his famous Sonata for cello and piano, Op 19 in G minor.   It was disappointing that Lucy Parham and Tim McInnerny, due to illness, were unable to present their special Rachmaninov show, with words and music, called “Elegie –  Rachmaninov – A Heart in exile”.  

Of course, Rachmaninov was not the sole focus of the festival, which as usual, started on the Wednesday with the Young Pianists concert.  Twenty piano students of all ages and at all stages once again stole the hearts of the audience.  Learning to play the piano can be a solitary practice, so it is great experience for these young pianists to perform in front of an audience and listen to their peers.

Thursday is Jazz Piano Day, and we had two brilliant pianists.  Scott Flanagan and his trio at lunchtime, and Kit Downes in the evening were both consummate artists and also at ease with the appreciative audiences.  Both concerts were tremendously enjoyable.

On Friday morning second level students came to St Mary’s Church to experience a formal classical concert given by Ellen Jansson.  Prior to the concert Ellen chatted to them about life as a professional artist, and described her path to her present status.  She also prepared them for the content of the concert, so that what might have been intimidating became more understandable and interesting.  For most of them, it would have been the first time attending such an event.

At the same time, the local library hosted two primary school groups to meet piano teacher, Sinead Crowley, who showed them how the piano worked and introduced them to piano playing.

That evening the classical concerts started in earnest, with guest pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, hailed as “potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century”, Yumeka Nakagawa winner of the prestigious Clara Haskin competition in 2021, our Artistic Diirector Finghin Collins and Canadian Meagan Milatz.  There were concerts throughout the weekend  at lunchtime, evening, late night and finally Sunday afternoon.  The spice of chamber music was provided by Mirijam Contzen from Germany on violin, and Alexander Chaushian on cello.  Alexander is professor of cello at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music and the Royal College of Music in London, while Mirijam is professor of violin at the University of the Arts in Berlin.

By sheer chance a Canadian cellist, Cameron Crozeman,  had travelled with Meagan Milatz and the two of them filled in the space left by Lucy’s absence with a delightful noon-time concert on the Sunday.  This spontaneous event was much appreciated by the organisers and the audience.

The repertoire over the weekend ranged from Haydn to Berg, with Chopin and Schubert amongst others in between.  It also included the premiere of the two pieces, the Dunbrody Suite,  commissioned by the festival in collaboration with the Canadian music festival at Le Domaine Forget near Quebec.  One piece was composed by Canadian Francois Vallieres and the Irish one by Marian Ingoldsby from Carrick-on-Suir.  The original ship was built in Quebec and the replica now lies in the river in New Ross.  The Festival has now commissioned music inspired by two locally important ventures– the Ros Tapestry and the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

We now look forward to the 2024 Festival and a star-studded programme.

  Download our 2023 brochure


The Piano Festival in New Ross is now in its 16th year and back to normal after the two years of Covid 19.

The first event was the session in the Library with primary schools from the local area.  This is an enjoyable and lively event where Sinead Crowley, a music teacher in WIT, comes to the Library and shows the children the inside of the piano [ put there for the duration of the Festival for anyone to play], and lets them try playing it and plays it herself.

That evening the action moved to St Mary’s Church, where about 20 piano students shared a concert.  They were all ages from 8 to 18, and at different stages in their learning from beginners to Grade 8, playing everything from Bach to Sam Wedgewood.  The audience included proud parents and teachers as well as the public who now know from past years that they will probably hear some remarkable playing from these students.

Thursday was Jazz Piano Day.  It started in the Dunbrody Café at 11am where Greg Fenton played a free session  to the delight of people who had just gone in for a coffee.  He then travelled up to St Mary’s Church to give a lunchtime concert with his jazz trio, Origin Story.  In between numbers he told us that, amazingly, his grandfather had moved to New Ross when Greg’s father was ten years old, and had been the organist for about three years in St Mary’s Church.  Such a co-incidence – grandfather and grandson playing wildly different music in the same space.

There was another free session in the Dunbrody at 3 pm and then there was a rest period until the evening concert.  And what a concert it was.  The back story was that Craig Tabor, an extremely well-known American jazz pianist, had been engaged for this important event, but had to cancel at the last moment – the day before the Festival started – due to his mother becoming seriously ill in America.  The agent suggested a replacement that was not heard of in Ireland, but who was coming to the end of a concert tour in Europe and was willing to travel immediately, prior to returning to America where he lives.  This pianist, Vadim Neselovskyi, is Ukrainian by birth, and has composed and recorded a work called Odesa Suite, to celebrate his home town.  It is available on-line.  Since he started composing it, the war has started and has affected him deeply.  His performance was riveting, mesmerising, to say the least.   Nobody who was there will forget it in a hurry.

On Friday morning the second-level music students arrived at the church to listen to Irish pianist Maire Carroll.  She is studying for a doctorate at Trinity College at the moment, but has already performed all over the world from Asia, America, Canada and Europe.  A winner of many awards, one of her pet projects is called Hidden Pianos, where she finds interesting and unusual venues for making music.  Maire spoke to the students about how she became a professional concert pianist. At midday the doors opened that the public audience joined the students for an hour-long free concert where Maire played Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Philip Glass.  Interestingly the students liked Philip Glass best.  

The Friday evening was in the format that this Festival is famous for.  It is shared by three or four pianists, pianists who would usually command a whole concert to themselves in the most prestigious concert halls in the world.  On Friday there were four pianists and a string quartet.  

Tamara Licheli had made an arduous journey from Tblisi in Georgia to make  her first visit to Ireland.  She runs her own music festival in Georgia and is a jury member at several piano competitions as well as performing in the States, South Africa and many European countries.  Jonathan Plowright is one of the most established pianists in the UK and has made many recordings.  His Brahms recordings received 5 stars from critics.  One of his projects is the raising of the profiles of lesser known Polish composers.  This arose from his interest in Paderowski and his invitation to play at significant musical anniversaries in Poland.  Dmitro Choni, another Ukrainian, has also won many awards and competitions, the most recent being third prize in this year’s Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the States – awarded after he had been engaged by the New Ross committee, to their great delight.  That particular competition is the World Cup of piano playing.  He did not disappoint.  Finghin Collins, Artistic Director of the Festival concluded the evening with  the famous Wanderer Fantasy by Schubert.

Saturday continued with a brilliant solo concert given by Dmitro Choni in the morning, a masterclass given by Jonathan Plowright with two advanced students in the afternoon. Laoise McMullin has just achieved first class honours  from the RIAM, and David Vesey graduated from MTU Cork School of Music in 2021.  There were two concerts in the evening.  Three pianists, Jonathan Plowright, Tamara Licheti and Francois-Xavier Poizat shared the first with the Albion Quartet, and Finghin Collins gave a delightful concert at 10pm, performing a selection of pieces from his new CD, The Bright Day is Done, in which he uses music inspired by the passing of the day from dawn to dusk.  It was an appropriate choice for a busy day.

Sunday started with Francois-Xavier Poizat giving a solo recital at noon, performing Liszt, Ravel and a riveting Stravinsky Firebird Suite.  Francois-Xavier studied in Switzerland, the Juillard School of Music in New York, and in Rome, and has been director of the International Puplinge Classique Festival in Geneva for 12 years, as well as performing in over 27 countries so far.

The closing concert was on Sunday afternoon, with Tamara Licheti,  Finghin Collins and the Albion Quartet playing Shostakovich, and Jonathan Plowright performing Cesar Franck and Chopin.

It was a very successful weekend and some of the comments collected in the Visitor Book reflect this.  “…New Ross – a magical feast of music every September…”

“…A wonderful festival. My first time here…”

“…New Ross is so lucky to have this wonderful festival…”

“…Brilliant! Great to be back…”

“…Splendid, as ever…”

“…My first visit but definitely not the last…”

“…Probably the best piano festival in the world…”

  Download our 2022 brochure


New Ross Piano Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary this year from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th September 2021, having had to cancel last year’s festival due to the Covid pandemic.  It was a spectacular Steinway two-grand-piano event.

We were delighted to return to live performance. Whilst audience numbers were smaller to comply with Covid protocols, nonetheless our patrons enjoyed great music and hospitality in a convivial atmosphere, making New Ross Piano Festival the memorable cultural event that it is. 

The breadth of the piano as a genre has been reflected in the introduction of a jazz strand to the festival. Now in its fourth year, the Jazz Piano Day on Thursday featured the legendary jazz artist and his band, The Jim Doherty Trio. The concert comprised a mix of performance and reminiscences by Jim Doherty on his illustrious career as a jazz musician. The evening concert featured the celebrated British jazz pianist, Jason Rebello. Throughout the festival weekend there were free 30 minute jazz sessions in a variety of public locations around New Ross. 

As always, there were events for young people.  The local library hosted primary school children who met piano teacher Sinead Crowley, who showed them the insides of the piano and got them trying to make music.  Second level students met young professional Tiffany Qiu, who chatted to them about her progression to her present level of performance and then played a short recital for them – possibly the first formal concert many of them would have attended. There was also a masterclass for two third level students on Saturday afternoon, open to the public.

Featured classical artists this year were French pianist and honorary Irishman Philippe Cassard and Cédric Pescia, a dual citizen of France and Switzerland, who returned to New Ross for his second festival.  Also returning to the festival this year were British pianist Charles Owen and Moscow-born pianist Katya Apekisheva, co-curators of the London Piano Festival; award-winning Swiss pianist Christian Chamorel; celebrated Israeli pianist, Einav Yarden, and the festival’s artistic director Finghin Collins. 

The festival’s string players were classical violinist Charlotte Scott who performs on a ‘Gagliano’ Stradivari (c 1685); Hungarian born violist and award-winning musician Máté Szücs, and the wonderfully versatile UK cellist Adrian Brendel. 

This year we included chamber works by Chausson and Tchaikovsky and a variety of solo and duo works from Bach to Poulenc. We were proud to present the world premiere of “Sonnets” by British composer Sally Beamish, a festival co-commission with London Piano Festival, which will also receive a UK premiere in London in October. 

We had familiar and lesser known works, in a variety of forms, from solo piano, works for two pianos, to duets for two pianos, and works for chamber music and piano, making for a diverse and engaging programme. Keller’s arrangement for eight hands of Brahms Academic Festival Overture got the weekend off with a flourish. And so it continued until the festival culminated on Sunday afternoon with a performance of Liszt’s tumultuous arrangement for two pianos of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, performed by Philippe Cassard and Cédric Pescia, sending us all home in a blaze of light and hope.


What a year!

We decided to put on one concert to mark the date of the postponed/cancelled 2020 Festival.  It had a limit of 50 seats, well spaced, and very careful stewarding.  Our soloists were Ellen Jansson and our Artistic Director, Finghin Collins. The artists are Finghin Collins, well known to all of  you, and Ellen Jansson from Cork.  Marking 250 years since the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, they performed three of his sonatas, Op.2 No. 3 in C major;  Op. 57 in F minor “Appassionata” and Op. 111 in C minor.

Hailed as “a major talent” after her Carnegie Hall debut with Prokofiev Third Piano Concerto, Irish pianist Ellen Jansson is a graduate of CIT Cork School of Music and recipient of the Cork Orchestral Society Emerging Artist Award. A current student of Mary Beattie, she spent a year of her undergraduate studying on an Erasmus scholarship with Professor Martin Hughes at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and is also a past pupil of the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, where she was the winner of the Chetham’s Yamaha Piano Competition.

Ellen has appeared as soloist with the New York Concerti Sinfonietta, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Esker Festival Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and CSM Symphony Orchestra. She has performed in many prominent Irish venues as well as abroad in Carnegie Hall (New York), Alexela Concert Hall (Tallinn, Estonia), and the Ukrainian Radio Concert Hall (Kiev).

A multiple prize-winner at Electric Ireland Feis Ceoil in both chamber and solo competitions, Ellen has also been awarded first prize in both the CSM Advanced Recital and Senior Concerto Competitions. She was awarded a Flax Trust bursary at Clandeboye Festival 2016 and she was a finalist in the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Scholarship 2017. Ellen was also awarded the second prize in the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year 2018.

An avid chamber musician, Ellen performs regularly with violinist Patrick Rafter, as well as in festivals including the Ortús Chamber Music Festival, Music for Galway, Killaloe Chamber Music Festival and the ‘Finding a Voice’ Festival in Clonmel where she curated a concert of solo and chamber works by Alexina Louie. Other collaborations have included performances with the ConTempo String Quartet and the Ficino Ensemble.

The concert was greatly appreciated by those who were lucky enough to attend, and in fact was quite emotional.  We really need live music.

During the year we also organised a composition competition for young music students aged 15 to 20 years.  The winners were Donnchadh Hughes and Harry O’Connor, whose compositions will be played at next year’s Festival, if all goes well. 


We were delighted to welcome Barry Douglas and his Camerata Ireland to New Ross in 2019. Barry and the Camerata are outstanding musical ambassadors for this island. The closing orchestral concert in St. Michael’s Theatre with three piano concertos ended the weekend on a high.  

Before that there were plenty of wonderful concerts to enjoy with pianists from Ireland, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Israel and Korea, performing piano music by a huge variety of composers. We also presented chamber music by Penderecki and Clara Schumann, marking the latter’s bicentenary. 

Our third annual Jazz Piano Day was presented by the charismatic Welsh jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock in a performance that was not to be missed.

  Download our 2019 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2018


New Ross Piano Festival opened its 13th season on Thursday last with the Young Pianists Concert.  This immensely popular event has anchored itself firmly in the festival programme and attracts an appreciative and growing audience annually.

Billed as “20 young pianists play the Steinway concert grand for sheer fun”, it does exactly what it says.  On Thursday pianists as young as eight to the “oldies” of sixteen or seventeen certainly put it through its paces.  Music ranged from 17th century to 20th century, and from a fun filled “Tea for Two” arranged as a duet to jazz piano and a wonderful Chopin Ballade. 

This was a delightful concert for all ages and all musical tastes, show-casing the talent of the southeast region and the dedication of students, teachers and parents.  The musical future is safe in their hands.

For the second year running a full Jazz Piano Day, Thursday, 27th September, was incorporated into the piano festival.  it commenced with a lunchtime concert given by the Phil Ware Trio – Ireland’s leading Jazz trio comprising pianist Phil Ware (the festival’s jazz curator), bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady.  The trio played an entertaining set ranging from works of famous jazz composers to their own arrangements of well-known movie tunes.

The much-acclaimed Lars Jansson from Sweden presented the evening jazz concert.  His highly enjoyable programme included repertoire from the Great American Songbook, some improvisations as well as his own compositions which he also talked about with feeling and good humour.

The piano festival also presented free jazz sessions with Darragh Hennessy on piano and Barry Donohue on double bass.  This up and coming duo from Dublin performed their music to much appreciation at the Dunbrody Café on Thursday afternoon and at New Ross Library on Friday afternoon.

Special mention should be given to two Waterford pianists.  Sinead Crowley met several groups of primary school children in the library on Thursday, showing them the workings of the piano in an exciting manner, and Billy O’ Brien who on Friday morning gave an educational recital for the second level music pupils of various schools in the area, joined at 12 noon by the public and 40 small students from the Educate Together School – all perfectly quiet and intent and a credit to themselves and their teachers.  Billy gave the first performance of a new work by Robert Coleman during this concert and the composer was present to talk about the process of making new music.  Another initiative to involve younger audiences was the masterclass given by Anne-Marie McDermott to two young advanced students on Saturday afternoon in the Pastoral Centre, packed out as always.

Friday evening was the first of the three big concerts featuring 5 musicians – three wonderful pianists – Alexandra Dariescu lighting up the stage with her radiant smile, Anne-Marie McDermott making her Irish debut and joined at regular intervals during the weekend by some of her 267 Irish relatives, most of whom she had never met, and of course Finghin Collins the Artistic Director of the festival   They were joined by Svetlin Roussev on violin and Marc Coppey on cello for three iconic piano trios.  Both of these superb instrumentalists are professors in music conservatories, Svetlin in Geneva and Marc in Paris.  This group performed on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, with a different programme each time.

There were two very different concerts at noon on Saturday and Sunday – both of them breath-taking.  Francois Dumont gripped the audience’s attention with his programme of Bach, Liszt and especially his very moving Debussy, while the Cuban Marcos Madrigal pleased everyone with his wide range of works, including the film music from the Oscar-winning film Fresa y Chocolate, and the popular Epilogo, both by Cuban composers.

The late-night concert, called Labyrinth by its performer, David Greilsammer, was inspired by his recurring nightmares of being stuck in a labyrinth and not being able to get out.  His work featured a mixture of short snatches of Bach, Mozart and Janacek, all mixed up and very disorientating.  It succeeded in its aim of confusion and disturbance, and set the audience talking and arguing about its merits for the remainder of the weekend.  The late-night concert is always meant to be a bit edgy, and this suited perfectly. During the weekend the festival launched its CD of the 15 new piano pieces, The Ros Tapestry Suite,  commissioned from fifteen Irish composers inspired by the fifteen panels of the Ros Tapestry, and performed by international pianists during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 festivals. Sinead Casey, speaking on behalf of Wexford Arts Office, who supported the making of the CD, stated that it fitted perfectly into the Council’s cultural aims.  Also during the weekend, Finghin Collins premiered a new work by John Buckley which the festival commissioned this year.  John  Buckley is one of Ireland’s most respected composers and was present for the performance.

The 2018 New Ross Piano Festival concluded triumphantly on Sunday afternoon with an exhilarating performance of Prokofiev’s fiendishly difficult Sixth Piano Sonata by the Irish-American pianist Anne Marie McDermott.  Although this was the thirteenth New Ross Festival there was certainly no hint of the usual superstition  attached to that number as the lucky attendees were treated to an extraordinary exhibition of pianistic  virtuosity by a truly international roster of gifted pianist, which included Irish, English, Swedish, French, Rumanian, American, Cuban and Bulgarian artists. 

From the opening children’s’ concert on Wednesday night to the closing concert the standard never flagged nor indeed the enthusiasm of the audience. A particular highlight of the opening children’s concert was the sight of the four Mercer sisters happily playing together on the one piano an arrangement of Lavignac’s  Galop- Marche for eight hands. Their enjoyment was infectious. In the subsequent concerts all the adult pianists showed their considerable talents in an incredibly eclectic selection of works from the classical piano repertoire. They were joined on three occasions by the Bulgarian violinist Svetlin Roussev, playing a Stradivarius, no less, and the French cellist, Marc Coppey in three well-loved Piano Trios by, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn and Schubert. All in all it was a wonderfully successful few days as evidenced by the happy faces streaming out of St.Mary’s Church each time. 

The organizers re-iterated how grateful they are for the continuing support they receive from the Arts Council, Wexford County Council, Failte Ireland and the Friends of the Festival. They also thanked the congregation of St Mary’s Church for the use of the church with its extraordinary acoustic.  Plans are already at an advanced stage for next year’s festival and even for 2020. Keep an eye on the website…

  Download our 2018 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2017


Although the programme contained a wide variety of composers, there was a Hungarian flavour to 2017’s festival. Two of our guest pianists, Zoltan Fejérvári and Klára Würtz were Hungarians. He was making his Irish debut and she was a prize-winner at the first Dublin International Piano Competition. Two of the brilliant chamber music performers were Hungarians – István Várdai on cello and Kristóf Bárati on violin – and we had a Hungarian musicologist, Endre Toth, who enlightened us on the famed Hungarian school of piano-playing before each of the coffee concerts and talked about Kodaly at the student session. Together with Finghin Collins these musicians played at the three main concerts.

Another exciting “not to be missed” event this year was the fortepiano concert on Saturday. Kristian Bezuidenhout, the much admired exponent on this instrument, performed on a specially imported fortepiano in a solo recital at 12 noon. David Greilsammer was taken ill and unfortunately was unable to perform his programme called Labyrinth on Saturday evening.  To everyone’s delight, Finghin Collins agreed to give a short recital of Chopin Nocturnes,  which are featured in his new CD of Chopin’s music.  The astonishing young Russian, Elizaveta Ukrainskaia, gave a solo recital on Sunday at noon. She has just won first prize at the Bremen Piano Competition, and the New Ross Piano Festiva was pleased to enable her Irish debut.

There was a new and free Friday noon concert with Sean Morgan-Rooney, winner of the Brennan Prize at the last Dublin International Piano Competition. This was specially aimed at music students but it was open to the public  to join them at 12 noon. Sean’s programme  featured a variety of short pieces, familiar and not….

Lastly but not least, we introduced a Jazz Piano Day, Wednesday the 20th, to start the festival,  curated by Phil Ware. He brought to us one of Europe’s most entertaining and well-known jazz pianists, the Italian Enrico Pieranunzi. Phil and his double bass player, Damian Evans, also played a very well received  lunch time concert that day in the church.  In the early evening, at 7pm, Phil and Enrico had an entertaining pre-concert conversation about their jazz piano experiences prior to Enrico’s concert at 8pm.

Continuing the jazz piano strand, Myles Drennan played two sessions, each an hour long, one in the New Ross Library at 11am and one in the Dunbrody Visitor Centre at 3.30pm. Both of these were free events. These PLAY ME pianos were placed in those venues for a week for anyone to play when they felt like it. One was also placed in the Lake Region Medical premises.

Some of reviewers’ comments  about the festival:

“…a little gem…”,  “…innovative planning…”,  “…atmospheric charm…”, “attractive acoustic…”   

  Download our 2017 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2016


This festival lived up to all previous high standards, and the audiences went away with some wonderful memories.  Highlights? Impossible to judge because there were so many, but Nicholas Angelich and the Quatuor Ebene  performing the Franck Piano Quintet, Piers Lane’s Chopin pieces, Finghin Collins’ Four Impromptus of Schubert, Jonathan Morris playing the world premiere of one of the Ros Tapestry Suite new commissions from memory, and Nathalia Milstein’s amazing Prokofiev.  And who can forget Jonathan and Nathalia’s atmospheric late night programme of French music for four hands – Faure, Ravel and Bizet? So many magical moments…

Throughout the weekend the world premieres of the final five pieces in the Ros Tapestry Suite took place, bringing to a close the ambitious three-year project which has seen  the commissioning of fifteen Irish composers to respond to the 15 panels of the amazing Ros Tapestry in music. The composers this year were Raymond Deane, Philip Martin, Grainne Mulvey, Marian Ingoldsby and Garrett Sholdice.  Finghin Collins fronted an interesting discussion about the challenges of composing music inspired by a picture with the latter three composers on Sunday morning.  On Saturday morning he welcomed Richard Lomas, an historian from Northumbria who has written a booklet about the Normans who are connected with the New Ross area. The proceeds from the sale of these was generously given to the Piano Festival funds.

On Friday the renowned jazz pianist, Phil Ware, was in town with bass player Damian Evans, and gave short recitals in unusual venues, such as the Dunbrody Cafe and the Library. A similar pattern took place on Saturday with Patrick Molitor, who has been influential in preparing students for entry into the degrees in jazz piano that are now available in Ireland.

There were the usual outreach sessions with students of all levels, and the placing of “Play Me” pianos in unusual venues for the public to play whenever they feel like it.

  Download our 2016 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2015


In 2006 the festival’s committee set out with a simple mission – to celebrate the virtuosity, versatility and variety of music and emotions that are associated with the piano and with pianists. It was an all Irish cast that year in a programme from the established repertoire but slowly, yet surely, the inspired festival committee introduced elements of more challenging and contemporary composition including the commissioning of a fascinating cycle of work (to be completed next year) relating to the panels of the historical Ros Tapestry by some of today’s active Irish composers. Mainstream composition now sits happily alongside the avant garde. Five more world premières were commissioned this year. The composers were Eric Sweeney, Linda Buckley, Deirdre Gribbin, Andrew Hamilton and Sam Perkin.

The South East Young Pianists’ concert on Thursday was, as in previous years, a valuable insight into the amount of precocious musical talent in the region. Young people also experienced piano music in the Library with Yvonne Collier and in Our Lady of Lourdes school with Daria van den Berken, whose enlightening talk and performance was filmed by RTE.

This year saw the return of the RTE Concert Orchestra so that we heard three piano concertos on the Friday night. Fittingly, it was Artistic Director Finghin Collins who was first to the platform this year in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #3. A relatively well known concerto, it puts it up to the pianist for instant comparison with his peers, yet he is one who can mix it with the best and the audience warmth for one if its own was reflected in a typically assured performance where he was both conductor and pianist. Cédric Tiberghien’s performed the well-loved Mendelssohn concerto and Alexei Grynyuk introduced many people to Scriabin’s wonderful score. Finghin Collins conducted the RTE Concert Orchestra throughout .

Olga Scheps, suffering a head cold, gave a memorable performance of the Romantic style of piano playing. Opening with a crystal clear Chopin nocturne, she included Rachmaninov’s ‘Vocalise’ along with a Chopin Ballade. She played with great sensitivity and delicacy though, after a quickly taken first encore, she followed up with an explosive Prokofiev piece – there is nothing like Russian blood to deliver Russian music.

Cédric Tiberghien’s passionate playing of Berg’s Piano Sonata was an invitation to the audience to engage with this ‘new’ music, and by including it along with a Mozart sonata he was suggesting that if Mozart’s is music then so is Berg’s.

Those who stayed on for the late night concert enjoyed the Fidelio Trio in a beautiful rendering of Schoenberg’s ‘Verklärte Nacht’ which is the treasure piece in the tonal oeuvre.

Alexei Grynyuk gave a very moving performance of Schubert’s death bed Piano Sonata in A major followed by Stravinsky’s three movements from Pétrouchka with its hideously difficult score which only few can master. Aurally and visually Grynyuk’s performance was as breathtaking as it was thrilling.

Daria van den Bercken’s recital of Handel and Mozart whose music comes from the early and mid 18th century with its ordered and simpler structure was completely different. She gave a commanding performance, much enjoyed by the audience.

The weekend was brought to a close by the 21 gypsy tunes of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances in a 50 minute performance by Finghin Collins and Cédric Tiberghien, which brought a spontaneous sense of fun to the closing event.

The printed programme listed all the brilliant pianists and chamber groups who had delighted us in New Ross over the 10 years of the festival. We look forward to the next ten years!

  Download our 2015 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2014


New Ross Piano Festival once again wove its magic. A very appreciative audience was treated to a delicious variety of piano repertoire. A wonderful innovation this year was the commissioning of five new compositions by Irish composers inspired by panels of the Ros Tapestry. The international piano virtuosi were joined by the Cassiopeia Winds for several pieces.

For the large audience who came on Thursday to hear the young students from this South East this proved to be a stimulating and rewarding evening. Notable performances were given by 10 year old Emma Murphy, who started playing only in 2013, and gave a confident rendering of Diabelli’s Sonatina Op.151, and also Kevin Ye’s masterly Fantasie-Impromptu by Chopin. This strand of the festival grows every year, both in the ability of the students and in the size of the audience.

The opening concert with the guest pianists on Friday night also had a large and appreciative audience, who had travelled from all over Ireland, from the UK, Germany, and China as well as a loyal local following. It was noticeable this year that the mid-day concerts had become very popular with almost full houses for Joseph Moog and Beatrice Berrut’s solo recitals. Both of these performers gave wonderful programmes, beautifully played. Joseph Moog will be making his first appearance in London’s Wigmore Hall next month, but it was a New Ross privilege to have heard him first. Beatrice Berrut’s slight figure belied her tremendous power as she moved from the Busoni Bach transcriptions of the choral preludes to his very difficult but lovely Chaconne in D minor, and on again to the vivid depictions of Dante’s Hell and shimmering Heaven as composed by Liszt. She combined delicacy and strength and a great depth of feeling.

For three of the concerts we were treated to performances by Melvyn Tan, Lise de la Salle and Finghin Collins. It is difficult to describe the roller coaster of emotions that these three marvellous pianists evoked. From the incandescent and breath-taking performance of Finghin Collin’s Chopin Etudes on Friday, to Melvyn Tan’s beautifully sensitive Schubert on Saturday, to Lise de la Salle’s incredible playing of one of the most difficult works in the piano repertoire, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit on Sunday, their programmes were deeply satisfying.

The Cassiopeia Winds joined them for thoroughly enjoyable works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Mozart, Poulenc and Caplet, works which on the whole are not heard often, but were delightful.

The newly commissioned works by Gerald Barry, Gerry Murphy, Sebastian Adams, Elaine Agnew and John Kinseila were very different from each other in style, extremely interesting in interpretation, and were played in front of the actual tapestry depicted. This strand of the festival is an exciting addition, and will certainly spark increased interest and knowledge of the wonderful, beautifully embroidered Ros Tapestry, with its unique blend of art, craftsmanship and history.

When the audience emerged into the early evening autumn sunshine on Sunday the talk was of the pleasure, the joy and sheer delight that this Festival delivers annually.

  Download our 2014 brochure

New Ross Piano Festival 2013


Our emphasis this year was on Russian pianists. Lilya Zilberstein is well established and Denis Kozhukhin is younger but also on the world stage, and both of them took part in our three main shared concerts. Finghin Collins, our Artistic Director, also performed at those concerts, as did the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet. On Sunday they were joined by the Russian violinist, Ilya Gringolts,for a rousing performance of Chausson’s Concert.

One of the highlights this year was the Saturday solo recital at mid-day. Again it was a Russian. Nikolay Khozainov won the last Dublin International Piano Competition in 2012. He was only 19 at the time, the youngest winner ever. But on Saturday we all realized why. He was quite amazing, and the audience were bowled over.

On Sunday morning we heard the American pianist, Alexander Bernstein, play an all-American programme, including the well-known Rhapsody in Blue. We had chosen to do this concert as our contribution towards the special JFK50 celebrations in New Ross in 2013. Alexander also met music students on Friday morning and told them about some of the better known American composers such s Charles Ives and Gershwin, playing some of their music.

On Thursday morning pianist Yvonne Collier took three sessions in the Library with primary school children from Listerlin and New Ross. We also left a “Play Me” piano there for the weekend, rather disturbing the peace of the library. Pianos were also placed in Tesco, Supervalu, St Michael’s Theatre foyer and Brandon House Hotel for the public to play at their leisure.

We had visiting reviewers from France and Germany, who have both written reviews in music magazines on the continent , and this year we had our first Japanese visitor as well as visitors from France, Austria and the UK.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2012


2012 will be remembered for several reasons. For the first time we had the RTE Concert Orchestra for an event which included three piano concertos with three different pianists, all conducted by our Artistic Director Finghin Collins. It was also the first time we had a piano trio, the highly respected Storioni Trio from the Netherlands. We welcomed pianists from all over the world. Young Melodie Zhao from Switzerland wowed the audiences, as did Martina Filjak, the Croatian pianist who travelled from America to be with us. Greek pianist Dimitri Papadimitriou gave an exciting Russian programme, and we had three very different Irish pianists – our own Artistic Director and international pianist Finghin Collins, Fergus Sheil who played his own arrangements of American standards, and Hugh Tinney who gave a fascinating late night  exploration of John Cage and his influences, performing on both ‘normal’ and prepared piano.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2011


2011 was the two-piano festival and was definitely our most extravagant festival thus far! We had three pairs of fabulous duettists. Noriko Ogawa with Kathryn Stott; Igor Roma with Enrico Pace; and Katya Apekisheva with Charles Owen. The range of two-piano repertoire was fascinating; from well-known works by Mozart and Rachmaninov to less-often performed works by Schumann (with two cellos) and Bartok (with two percussionists!)

We commissioned a new two-piano work from Stephen Gardner with funds from the Arts Council; this was premiered  by Finghin Collins and Charles Owen.  Young Irish pianist Fiachra Garvey gave an impressive solo recital. We also engaged some orchestral players to give three performances of the Carnival of the Animals, narrated by celebrated Irish actor Barry McGovern.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2010


2010 was the Chopin year and we celebrated it by including both of his piano concertos arranged for string quartet and bass. We also had Chopin specialists, Abdel Rahman El Bacha from France and the amazing young Chinese girl, Sa Chen.  El Bacha gave a masterful performance of Chopin’s complete Preludes as well as his second piano concerto.  Schumann’s bicentenary was also marked with a performance of his piano quintet by Finghin Collins and the Renoir Quartet. Libor Novacek and Rebecca Capova gave the daytime solo recitals.  Finghin Collins gave a memorable late night Schubert concert and Colm O’ Brien once again entertained downtown with ragtime and jazz.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2009


The 2009 New Ross Piano Festival took place over the weekend of September 24th to 27th, celebrating the enormous diversity of the piano, with five prize-winning pianists from Ireland, Finland, Korea, Italy and the UK.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2008


The 2008 New Ross Piano Festival featured Finghin Collins, Philip Martin, Cristina Ortiz, Nicolas Stavy, Peter Tuite, Muriel Cantoreggi, Marc Coppey and Emma Johnson. The programme lists Corinne Chapelle, but Corinne injured her arm the week before the Festival and Muriel Cantoreggi performed.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2007


The 2007 New Ross Piano Festival featured Dearbhla Collins, Ovid Trio, Finghin Collins, Freddy Kempf, John O’Conor, Norah King, Martha Bredin, Jamie Rock, Niall Morris and Maria McGarry. Ruth McGinley was listed in the programme but due to illness she was replaced by Maria McGarry.

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New Ross Piano Festival 2006


The inaugural 2006 New Ross Piano Festival featured Archie Chen, Míceál O’Rourke, Hugh Tinney, Finghin Collins, Michael McHale and ConTempo String Quartet.

  Download our 2006 brochure