Richard Harwood

Since his concerto debut at the age of ten, the award-winning English ‘cellist Richard Harwood has performed concerti and chamber music in major venues including London’s Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Thomaskirche (Leipzig), Auditorium du Louvre (Paris) and Alice Tully Hall / Lincoln Center (New York).

As concerto soloist, Richard has worked with conductors such as Mark Wigglesworth, Case Scaglione, Stanislav Kochanovsky, Michele Mariotti, John Wilson, Okko Kamu, Marko Letonja, Douglas Bostock, En Shao, Shuntaro Sato and Yehudi Menuhin, and with numerous orchestras including The Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, RTÉ National Symphony, RTÉ Concert, Auckland Philharmonia and the Ural Philharmonic.

As chamber musician, he has collaborated with the Jerusalem and Endellion Quartets, Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Olivier Charlier, Guy Braunstein, Benjamin Schmid, Alena Baeva, Ilya Gringolts, Pekka Kuusisto, Vilde Frang, Chen Halevi, Julian Bliss, Martin Roscoe, Peter Donohoe, Gottlieb Wallisch and Julius Drake, among others. Richard was cellist of the Sitkovetsky Trio from 2014-2016.

He is regularly heard on BBC, having made his BBC Radio 3 debut at the age of thirteen with a live recording of the Elgar Concerto. He has also given live performances on other radio networks including Classic FM, Radio France, MDR, RTÉ and Radio New Zealand.

Richard’s discography includes a debut disc for EMI Classics; recorded with pianist Christoph Berner, Composing Without The Picture (Resonus); a solo album of concert works written by film composers, and Christopher Gunning’s Cello Concerto recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. On screen, Richard can be seen and heard in Phil Grabsky’s 2009 documentary In Search of Beethoven and is regularly featured as a soloist on movie soundtracks, most recently in Patrick Doyle’s score to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express.

Contemporary music is important to Richard and he’s premiered solo works written for him by Dominic Muldowney, Martin Butler, Christopher Gunning, Alex Heffes, Fernando Velázquez, Benjamin Wallfisch and given the European premiere of David Horne’s Zip with the composer at the piano. In recent years, he has developed a close association with Judith Weir and regularly performs her Unlocked for solo cello.

Richard was appointed principal cellist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the beginning of 2018. He has also been a principal of the John Wilson Orchestra, and guest principal at the London Symphony and RTÉ Concert orchestras.

Richard began his studies with Joan Dickson, before continuing with other eminent teachers such as Steven Doane, David Waterman, Heinrich Schiff (University of Music and Dramatic Art, Vienna) and Ralph Kirshbaum (Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester). He complemented his studies by taking master classes and lessons with Mstislav Rostropovich, Janos Starker, Steven Isserlis, Boris Pergamenschikow, Miklós Perényi, Bernard Greenhouse, Valentin Erben (Alban Berg Quartet), William Pleeth, Zara Nelsova and Ferenc Rados.

He has won many major awards ever since 1992 when he became the youngest ever winner of the Audi Junior Musician Award. Richard won the 2004 Pierre Fournier Award and, in that same year, also became the first British ‘cellist ever to be awarded the title “Bachpreisträger” at the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition, Leipzig 2004. Among many other accolades, he received the special “mention” prize from the jury at the Rostropovich Competition, Paris in 2005.

Richard enjoys teaching and has given masterclasses at the Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Irish Academy of Music and the Bruckner University (Linz), in addition to other teaching and summer course coaching.

Richard plays a ‘cello by Francesco Rugeri, dated 1692.

  • Born in Strasbourg, Elizabeth Sombart studied piano from the age of seven. She studied all over the world with various teachers, including Bruno-Leonardo Gelber, Peter Feuchtwanger, Hilde Langer-Rühl and Sergiu Celibidache. Elizabeth received the rank of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite in 2006 and then was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2008, both in reference to her career in music. Elizabeth has a strong relationship with the RPO and will be continuing this Beethoven Piano Concerto cycle with them over the coming months. Beethoven is one of the single most influential figure in the history of Western music. Starting out with Mozart and Haydn as his spiritual mentors; he wrestled off the shackles of 18th century Classicism, forging uncompromising musical landscapes with a visionary intensity that left most musicians quivering in his wake. For centuries, music had lagged behind the other arts, but with Beethoven’s iron-clad will, it found itself at the cutting edge of social change. This third instalment of this series features Beethoven’s mighty 5th piano concerto as well as his ever popular triple concerto, featuring Duncan Riddell on violin and Richard Harwood on cello.   All downloads include booklets.
  • Christopher Gunning returns with recordings of his Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto and Birdflight. Not composed until 2011, Gunning's Violin Concerto was composed after inspiration whilst the composer was out hiking in Wales. The violin is supposed to represent ducking and weaving, rather like the insects and animals found in the Welsh hills and valleys. However, despite this positive venture for the composer, the emotions of sadness and melancholy are never far from this music - feelings which never seem far from Gunning's music. The Cello Concerto is quite different. Although composed hard on the heels of the Violin Concerto, it is generally darker though equally expressive. The third piece, Birdflight, is for the orchestra alone; a kind of tone poem. At the opening and close there is some quiet night music with spacious strings. The birds take flight but encounter a problem; a hawk is on their tail. The birds manage to hide and there is a pause. Then, when danger has passed, they take off and once again enjoy the sheer pleasure of flying.   All downloads include booklets.
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