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John O’Conor and Ailbhe McDonagh perform Cello & Piano


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John O’Conor and Ailbhe McDonagh join forces to bring an intimate evening of cello and piano music. Performing sonatas by Beethoven and some glorious shorter works by Faurè, Chopin and McDonagh herself. Ailbhe will compose a new piece especially for this concert tour. This world premiere is written to celebrate John in his 75th birthday.

Programme: Beethoven: Cello Sonata, Op. 5 No. 1
i. Adagio sostenuto – Allegro
ii. Rondo. Allegro vivace
Beethoven: Cello Sonata, Op 69
i. Allegro ma non tanto
ii. Scherzo. Allegro molto (in A minor)
iii. Adagio cantabile – Allegro vivace

*** Interval ***

Faurè: Sicilienne, Op. 78
Faurè: Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1
Faurè: Élégie, Op. 24
McDonagh: Skellig
McDonagh: Fandango
McDonagh: Valentia (Tour World Premiere)
Popper: Hungarian Rhapsody, Op. 68

John O’Conor
The Irish pianist John O’Conor has been gathering wonderful reviews for his masterly playing for over forty years. “A pianist of unbounding sensitivity” (Gramophone); “He represents a vanishing tradition that favors inner expression and atmosphere over showmanship and bravura” (Chicago Tribune); “Impeccable technique and musicality … it would be hard to imagine better performances” (Sunday Times – London); “This artist has the kind of flawless touch that makes an audience gasp” (Washington Post); “Exquisite playing” (New York Times).

O’ Conor studied in his native Dublin, in Vienna with Dieter Weber, and was tutored by the legendary Wilhelm Kempff. His unanimous 1st Prize at the International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna in 1973 opened the door to a career that has brought him all around the world.

O’ Conor’s recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas led CD Review to say that he “by now should be recognized as the world’s premier Beethoven interpreter” and his recent recordings of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra and Andreas Delfs have also been greeted with acclaim. He recently released three CDs on the Steinway & Sons label: Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and two volumes of Haydn Sonatas. He has also been featured with videos on teaching and discussing Beethoven and Haydn Sonatas.

A Steinway Artist, O’Conor is Chair of the Piano Division at Shenandoah University in Virginia, Professor of Piano at the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Distinguished Visiting Artist at the TU Dublin Conservatoire of Music and Visiting Professor at Showa University in Japan.

For his services to music O’Conor has been decorated “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Government, awarded the “Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst” by the Austrian Government, the “Order of the Rising Sun” by the Emperor of Japan, and has received many other awards.

Ailbhe McDonagh
Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh is an international soloist, chamber musician and composer who performs throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, she studied with world-renowned cellists Steven Doane, Nora Gilleese, Aisling Drury-Byrne and William Butt.

As a chamber musician, she performs in a duo, The McDonagh Sisters, with pianist Orla McDonagh. She is also a member of the Ficino Ensemble and the crossover traditional Irish music group Trio Elatha, where she plays traditional Irish music on the cello.

McDonagh is also an established composer with numerous compositions and commissions to her name. Boosey & Hawkes, London published two books of her piano music entitled “It’s a Piano Thing” and more recently “It’s a Cello Thing,” two books of her pedagogical pieces for cello. Further works for cello include a solo suite commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland and the title piece for her recent Skellig album for cello and piano. McDonagh has also been published by ABRSM, RIAM and Hal Leonard.
McDonagh joined the cello faculty of the RIAM in 2010 and she enjoys regular invitations to give masterclasses. Previous albums include It’s a Cello Thing (2012 CD of the week on RTE Lyric FM) and Skellig (2020 Irish Examiner, Top Picks of the Year). She performs on a Postacchini cello.