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.
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, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano, and a first orchestral album Irish Piano Concertos featuring works by John Field and Philip Hammond with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Courtney Lewis. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and seven 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 include a recording of Strauss’s ‘Burleske’ with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos, and a recording of two new works by Cliff Eidelman with the London Symphony Orchestra.
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.
“…McHale was a wonderfully incisive soloist… this was exactly the sort of headlong, exciting adventure that Prokofiev intended it to be…” Michael Dervan, Irish Times
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.
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.
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.
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