Meet the Wallace National Junior Piano Competition Adjudicators
PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER ELTON
Christopher Elton was born in Edinburgh and received most of his musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he achieved the unusual distinction of gaining the Academy’s highest performing award - the Dip. RAM - on both piano and ‘cello.
He was a prizewinner in several British and international piano competitions, playing and broadcasting regularly both as a soloist and in chamber music. At the same time he worked as a freelance ‘cellist with the major London orchestras.
Christopher Elton’s international recognition has come as a result of the many successes of his students at the Royal Academy of Music. Many have won international awards, including first prizes in the Van Cliburn and London “World” International Piano Competitions as well as in Jaen, Newport, Dudley and New Orleans. Further recent successes have come in the finals of three recent Leeds International Piano Competitions as well as in the Leipzig Bach, Tchaikovsky, Dublin, Shanghai, and Taiwan Competitions as well as previous major awards in the international competitions in Santander, Geneva (CIEM), Munich (ARD), Geza Anda, Pozzoli, Mazaro del Vallo, Porto, Madrid, Ettlingen and the Stravinsky Awards in the USA. Students have also been successful in the prestigious Young Concert Artists award in New York, as well as in the London Young Concert Artists Trust. Many of his students are now recording artists.
While his priority is to his work at the Royal Academy, London, Christopher Elton has also been much in demand overseas both as a teacher and as a jury member for international competitions.Within the last few years he has given masterclasses in the USA, Japan, Israel, Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany and Ireland and Vietnam, many of them for important conservatories or universities. He has also been invited as a jury member at many important international competitions - Moscow (Tchaikovsky), Dublin, Leeds, Busoni (Bolzano),Vienna Beethoven, and China International as well as competitions in Germany, Japan, Romania, Taiwan, the USA and Ireland as well as in the UK. In November 2011 he will serve on the jury for the 2nd Shenzen International Piano Concerto Competition, and in 2012 on the Dublin, Ettlingen and Leeds International Piano Competition juries. During recent years he has also given recitals in the UK, USA, Ireland, Spain, Australia and Vietnam.
In the recent Singapore International Piano Festival, three of the four performers, (Yevgeny Sudbin, Benjamin Grosvenor and Daniel-Ben Pienaar were either his students, or ex-students.
Christopher Elton was Head of Keyboard at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he was elected a Fellow in 1983, from 1987 to 2011. In 2002 the title of Professor of the University of London was conferred on him. He now holds the title of Emeritus Professor of Piano.
Pianist Read Gainsford was recently described in the press as the possessor of “finger-numbing virtuosity and delicately chiseled precision” yet he is also driven to pursue connections beyond the merely pianistic. Known for his insightful introductions from the stage, reaching beyond the footlights to be what a magazine profile described as “Pianist of the People” he pursues connections wherever he can find them. From collaborating with noted oceanographers in presenting “Voice of the Whale” by George Crumb, to consulting with art historians and living artists to create a series of images to accompany performances of Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus; from historical reenactments of the famous piano duel between Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg of 1837, to playing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for live performance by a noted dance troupe, he is committed to reaching audiences in ways beyond the traditional.
Read Gainsford has also followed the standard route for a concert pianist. Born in New Zealand, he studied at The University of Auckland with New Zealand’s leading teachers, Janetta McStay and Bryan Sayer, before moving to London to work at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a pupil of the renowned pedagogue Joan Havill. He moved to the USA to earn a doctorate from Indiana University, under professor Karen Shaw. He has performed widely in the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, making successful solo debuts in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as playing in the Kennedy Center, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and others.
Keen to work with other musicians, his latest collaborative project involves forming Trio Solis who made their Carnegie Hall debut in May 2009. As well as traditional concerts and residencies, they enjoy "Building Bridges" - collaborating with talented student musicians to share their experience of making music with younger players. He has been associated for many years with the unique chamber music center Garth Newel, and has played with many leading musicians including the Audubon and Serafin Quartets, Richard Stoltzman, Jacques Zoon, Luis Rossi, and many others.
Dedicated to the works of living composers, Gainsford was a member of Ensemble X, a contemporary music group in Ithaca, NY. He has premiered many works including the 3rd Piano Concerto by Ladislav Kubik, which he also recorded with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Brno under the baton of Alex Jimenez, and Marc Satterwhite's Five Rivers of Hades, and he has recorded Ellen Taafe Zwilich's Images for two pianos and orchestra for Naxos. He has worked with many other composers including Steven Stucky, Chen Yi, John Psathas, Christopher Theofanidis, James Matheson, Steven Burke, Robert Paterson, Mark Wingate, Karim Al-Zand, Diego Vega. Dr. Gainsford is highly in demand as a master-class clinician and teacher, and in August 2005 was appointed Associate Professor of Piano at Florida State University, where he is now Coordinator of Keyboard. He is also a founding member of Trio Solis, formed in 2008, whose debut recording, “Diamonds in a Haystack” was selected as Critic’s Choice in American Record Guide.