B i o g r a p h y
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. 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.
A commitment to new music has seen Michael give first performances and recordings of music by composers including Valentin Silvestrov, Valerie Coleman, John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Rogerson, Abbie Betinis, Bill Whelan, Siobhán Cleary, Edward Gregson, Jennifer Walshe, Luke Bedford and Linda Buckley, 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).
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.
“…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…” Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post
“...performed with zest and sensitivity by pianist Michael McHale with the RTÉ National Symphony under Courtney Lewis... McHale makes a potent case for all of it” Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“…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