Nicholas McCarthy in Concert with the Manchester Camerata
“No Limits” is proud to welcome back the magnificent Nicholas McCarthy, one of the world’s greatest left-hand-only pianists in a special concert with the Manchester Camerata, conducted by Gábor Takács-Nagy.
Nicholas McCarthy is truly a wonder. Being born without a right hand has not prevented him from making a career as a professional musician. He only started playing piano at the age of 14 and overcame doubters and negativity to become the first left-hand-only pianist to graduate from London’s prestigious Royal College of Music.
The recital, specially filmed for “No Limits”, will feature two pieces by Ravel—Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major and Le Tombeau de Couperin—as well as Benjamin Britten’s Diversions for Piano (left hand) and Orchestra, Op 21. Performing these has been a long-held dream for Nicholas; it comes around 90 years since his hero Paul Wittgenstein overcame a similar disability to play the Ravel concerto, and it also marks over 70 years since Wittgenstein performed it and Britten’s Diversions together at the Proms in London in 1951.
Having already thrilled Hong Kong audiences at “No Limits” last year, when he also gave masterclasses to budding young Hong Kong musicians, Nicholas McCarthy’s recital is certain to be one of the highlights of this year’s programme.
The concert also sees a return to the HKAF of Gábor Takács-Nagy, who has previously conducted the Lucerne Festival Strings Orchestra at the Festival, to great acclaim.
This is a fantastic opportunity to hear a great musician playing alongside a world-class orchestra in a free online performance.
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Nicholas McCarthy was born in 1989 without a right hand. Inspired by a friend’s rendition of Ludwig Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 21 in C major (Waldstein), he began playing the piano at the relatively late age of 14.. Despite being told that he would never succeed as a concert pianist, McCarthy refused to be discouraged and went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London. The first one-handed pianist to graduate in the college’s 135-year history, McCarthy’s graduation made headlines around the world.
McCarthy is a champion of the dynamic world of left-hand alone repertoire. Dating back to the early 19th century, the practice rapidly developed after many suffered injuries on the battlefield during the First World War.
He has performed extensively in the UK and played in major venues including The Royal Albert Hall. McCarthy has also toured and performed in France, Belgium, Holland, South Africa, Malta, Kazakhstan, Japan, China, South Korea, the US and, most recently, Russia.
One of his proudest moments was performing with the British Paraorchestra at the 2012 Paralympic Games closing ceremony in front of 86,000 attendees and half a billion viewers worldwide. McCarthy’s concert performances, recordings and press coverage have drawn critical acclaim and he continues to encourage young people through his work in music education.
Born in Budapest, Gábor Takács-Nagy began studying the violin at the age of eight. As a student of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, he won first prize in the Jeno Hubay Violin Competition in 1979 and later pursued studies with Nathan Milstein.
From 1975 to 1992, Takács-Nagy was a founding member and leader of the acclaimed Takács Quartet performing with legendary artists Lord Menuhin, Sir Georg Solti, Isaac Stern and Mstislav Rostropovitch. In 1996, he founded the Takács Piano Trio and made world premiere recordings of the works of Hungarian composers Franz Liszt, Lászlo Lajtha and Sandor Veress. Today, Takács-Nagy is considered one of the most authentic exponents of Hungarian music, in particular that of Béla Bartok. In March 2017, he was awarded the prestigious Béla Bartok-Ditta Pasztory Prize. In 1998, he established the Mikrokosmos String Quartet with compatriots Zoltan Tuska, Sandor Papp and Miklos Perényi.
Following a long line of Hungarian tradition, Takács-Nagy turned to conducting in 2002. He became the music director of the Weinberger Chamber Orchestra in 2006 and the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra in 2007. From 2010 to 2012, he was the music director of the MAV Symphony Orchestra Budapest and the Manchester Camerata since September 2011. In September 2012, Takács-Nagy was named the principal guest conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and served as the principal artistic partner of the Irish Chamber Orchestra from 2013 to 2018.
He is regularly invited to conduct the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestra Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, the Orchestra Filarmonica de Bologna, l’Orchestre de l’Opéra de Toulon, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of Dijon-Bourgogne, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, the Orchestre de Chambre de Genève and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Takács-Nagy is also a dedicated and highly sought-after chamber music teacher and professor of string quartet at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Geneva.
In June 2012, he was awarded honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music in London and received the prestigious Artist of Merit Award from the Hungarian Government in February 2021.
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