Described as an ‘endlessly fascinating artist’, Ashley Wass is firmly established as one of the leading performers of his generation. He began playing the piano at the age of five, and studied music at Chetham’s School of Music from age 11. In his teens he studied on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included Christopher Elton and Hamish Milne.
Ashley’s watershed moment came in 1997 when he won the London International Piano Competition (the only British winner this far), a victory that led to a recording contract with Naxos, making him the first solo artist to obtain an exclusive deal with the label. His first recording was a highly praised CD of César Franck piano music, released in 1999.
He has also been prizewinner at the Leeds Piano Competition, and is a former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist.
Ashley has performed at many of the world’s finest concert halls including the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He has performed as soloist with ensembles including all of the BBC orchestras, the Philharmonia, Orchestre National de Lille, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, RLPO, and under the baton of conductors such as Simon Rattle, Osmo Vanska, Donald Runnicles, Ilan Volkov and Vassily Sinaisky.
He appeared alongside the likes of Sir Thomas Allen, Mstislav Rostropovich and Angela Gheorghiu in a gala concert at Buckingham Palace to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a performance broadcast live to millions of viewers around the world. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2008 with Vaughan Williams’ Piano Concerto, and returned in following seasons to perform works by Foulds, Stravinsky, Antheil, and McCabe.
Last season’s highlights included a debut at the Melbourne Recital Centre, as well as an acclaimed performance of the Foulds Dynamic Triptych with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of 2016 include performances with the Slovak Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, a tour to South America, as well as an extensive solo recital tour with a programme celebrating William Shakespeare.
Renowned for a broad and eclectic repertoire, Ashley has received great critical acclaim for his recordings of music from a wide range of styles and eras, with glowing reviews of his interpretations of composers such as Liszt, Franck, Beethoven, and Bridge. His survey of Bax’s piano music was nominated for a Gramophone Award and his discography boasts a number of Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’ recordings and BBC Music Magazine ‘Choices’.
Much in demand as a chamber musician, Ashley regularly partners many of the leading artists of his generation. He is a frequent guest of international festivals such as Pharos (Cyprus), Bath, Ako (Japan), Cheltenham, Kuhmo, Mecklenburg, Gstaad, City of London, and Ravinia and Marlboro in the USA, playing solo recitals and chamber works with musicians such as Mitsuko Uchida, Steven Isserlis, Emmanuel Pahud, Maxim Rysanov, Richard Goode and members of the Guarneri Quartet and Beaux Arts Trio.
Ashley Wass is the Artistic Director of the Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival. The Festival has grown from strength to strength during his tenure, with sold-out performances of challenging repertoire and broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.
In 2012 Ashley formed the Trio Apaches with violinist Matthew Trusler and cellist Thomas Carrol. The central focus of the Trio is to create innovative projects, with a particular focus on exploring repertoire that isn’t performed every day. Trio Apaches regularly appears on BBC Radio 3 and is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most in demand British ensembles of today.
Ashley is currently a Professor of Piano at the Royal College of Music, London, and is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Photo credits: Patrick Allen / www.operaomnia.co.uk