Described by Gramophone magazine as possessing ‘the enviable gift to turn almost anything he plays into pure gold’, Ashley Wass is recognised as one of the stars of his generation. He was the first British pianist to have won First Prize at the London International Piano Competition (in 1997) and the second British pianist in twenty years to reach the finals of the Leeds Piano Competition (in 2000). He appeared in the ‘Rising Stars’ series at the 2001 Ravinia Festival and his promise was further acknowledged by the BBC, which selected him as a New Generations Artist over two seasons (2000-2002). Ashley Wass studied at Chetham’s Music School and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music to study with Christopher Elton and Hamish Milne. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy in 2002.
As Naxos’s first ever exclusively contracted solo artist, he made his debut recording in 1999 with an acclaimed solo recital disc of works by César Franck for Naxos. His recent surveys of piano music by Bridge and Bax have been heralded as ‘unmissable’ and ‘the yardstick against which all future recordings will be judged’. The first CD of his recording for Naxos of the complete piano works of Arnold Bax, released in 2004, was selected as Editor’s Choice by Gramophone, and is complemented by further recordings of music by Bax and other British composers.
He has given performances at most of the major venues in Britain, including the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms, and also appeared in a gala concert at Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Concerto performances have included collaborations with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Philharmonia, Bournemouth Symphony and all the BBC orchestras. Ashley Wass is also much in demand as a chamber musician and has toured the United States and Europe with violinist Sarah Chang appearing at venues such as Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and Carnegie Hall in New York. He is Artistic Director of the Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival.
He has spent three summers at the Marlboro Music Festival, playing chamber music with musicians such as Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and David Soyer. Ashley Wass has given recitals at most of the major British concert halls including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Bridgewater Hall and St David’s Hall. His concerto performances have included Beethoven and Brahms with the Philharmonia, Mendelssohn with the Orchestre National de Lille and Mozart with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra at the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Brucknerhaus in Linz. He has also worked with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and other BBC orchestras. He recorded Poulenc’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and Vassily Sinaisky, featured as a BBC Music Magazine cover CD. He appeared 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, and in 2002 opened the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s concert season with Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto and later in the same season made his début with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Paul Daniel. His career continues with numerous recitals throughout Britain, appearances as a soloist with major orchestras and recital débuts in Germany, Cuba, Sweden and Israel.
He is also much in demand as a chamber musician and has already collaborated with some of the leading artists of his generation. In 2003 he formed the Denali Trio (www.ashleywass.btinternet.co.uk/thedenalitrio.htm) with violinist Jesse Mills and cellist Sarah Carter, the artists having previously collaborated at the Marlboro and Ravinia Festivals in the United States. Their debut tour of Britain in February 2004 was an outstanding success, winning enthusiastic reviews and resulting in a host of other invitations on both sides of the Atlantic.