Barry Douglas

Irish pianist Barry Douglas made a striking impression worldwide after winning the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 1986. He has since embarked on an outstanding career, giving on average 120 concerts per year as well as founding the Camerata Ireland. 

Douglas has performed as a soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Russian National Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin , Macau Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and Helsinki Philharmonic, among others.

Born in 1960, Douglas grew up in Belfast, learning piano, clarinet, cello and organ. Throughout the 1980s, Douglas was a regular figure on young talent platforms across the globe: he won the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas in 1985 and the top prize at the Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition in Santander, Spain. His 1986 win at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition was a turning point in his career. He stated: “Before the competition, I gave 30 to 40 concerts a year, and after – about 120”.  

In 1999, he founded Camerata Ireland. The chamber orchestra, consisting of young professional musicians from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, performs annually at the Clandeboye Festival in County Down and tours throughout Europe, the Americas and China, with Douglas as its Artistic Director.

In recent years, Barry Douglas undertook an extraordinary recording project with Chandos: recording the complete solo piano works of Johannes Brahms in the space of five years. The profundity and brilliance of the end result owes itself to 35 years of highly-esteemed experience and rich artistic insight. The first disc was released in 2012 and so far, each album has proved hugely successful in the public forum, garnering immense critical acclaim.

The BBC Music Magazine said of this first album that "he goes for the music’s emotional jugular, enhanced by beautiful rich tone and structural rigour... this is a very satisfying listen,” while the American Record Guide enthuses “...Douglas’s playing is warm and full-bodied as well as restrained and introspective in the more intimate lyrical expressions of the Intermezzos."

..Douglas’s playing is warm and full-bodied as well as restrained and introspective in the more intimate lyrical expressions of the Intermezzos.

On the strength of his growing conducting role at the piano, he has recently condcuted the Vancouver Symphony Orchetsra RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Indianapolis Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of the Romanian National Radio Orchestra at the Enescu Festival, Bangkok Symphony, I Pommerigi di Milano and Moscow Philharmonic orchestras.

Barry Douglas was honoured with Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contribution to music. He was awarded honorary Doctorates of Music from Queens University Belfast and the National University of Ireland.

Photo credit:

Header Image Courtesy of BBC
Long Image by Eugene Langan
Square Image by Mark Harrison

Michael McHale

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