Michael Ward gave his first public piano recital aged 9, directed his first musical production a few years later and conducted his first major symphony concert in 1977, whilst still only 16. Throughout his early musical career he was guided by several highly regarded international figures including Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Charles Groves and Claudio Abbado. Following on from this he studied conducting with Lawrence Leonard (a pupil of both Eric Kleiber and Ernest Ansermet), piano with the internationally renowned pianist Louis Kentner and following this Michael was invited by both Sir Simon Rattle and Raphael Frubeck de Bourgos to attend their rehearsals with the CBSO and LSO.
Michael had already conducted numerous orchestras, choirs and opera companies in Britain and abroad when he was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in 1990 - a post he held until 2008. It was also in 1990 that he was fortunate both to be invited to spend time shadowing Yan Pascal Tortelier (at that time Principal Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and come into contact with the composer and conductor Luciano Berio.
In 1991 he was one of only two British conductors invited to participate in the prestigious BesanÃ§on International Competition and in the same year he had a similar invitation from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in their search for young conducting talent. Soon after he undertook a tour to Australia and New Zealand where, at the same time he won joint first prize in the 1992 International Musician of the Year Competition held in Auckland.
Michael's schedule is extremely full: with a very large repertoire, ranging from pre-Baroque to post-Modern music, he is regularly in demand both in the UK and abroad and has given concerts in many leading concert venues. In addition Michael has made commercial recordings for Chandos, Doyen and Wilco Records as well as giving numerous broadcasts on both BBC and Independent radio and television.
His vast experience includes having worked with over 50 orchestras, choirs and opera companies including musicians from BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, English National Opera, Opera North, Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera. And he has given concerts at many of the major venues including RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester; Guildhall Concert Hall, London; City Hall, Sheffield; Fairfield Halls, Croydon; Free Trade Hall, Manchester; South Bank Concert Halls, London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
During 2003, and to critical acclaim, Michael conducted the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra in the Czech Republic. Further invitations followed including concerts in Rumania, with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Valcea, the Bucharest String Orchestra and concerts in Bulgaria. In 2005 he was engaged to make his debut in Russia with the Adygeya State Philharmonic Orchestra, in the 2006/2007 season he was invited to conduct Berlin's Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the Philharmonie whilst in the 2007/2008 season he conducted the Bucharest Sinfonia and further engagements followed in Poland during 2009.
For over 20 years, as a concert pianist, Michael has also given many recitals, concerto performances and chamber music concerts throughout the UK and abroad. Along with his wife Clare, he forms the renowned Piano Duo ‘A Quattro Mani'.
After a period of study with the English composer Philip Wilby, Michael was awarded a PhD in composition. In 1995, under the auspices of The Park Lane Group, his ‘Night Piece' for Brass Quintet was given its world premiere by Onyx Brass at the Purcell Room on London's South Bank and in April of that year he conducted the world premiere of his 1st Symphony, commissioned by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra: another piece, ‘Music for an Imaginary Film' was premiered by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in December 2000. In 1997 he completed a concerto for the internationally renowned horn player David Pyatt. Other works include a String Quartet, given its first performance in 1998 by the Sorrell Quartet, a Piano Sonata premiered in 1999 by the composer as well as ‘Paean' for massive orchestral forces, soloists and chorus. His ‘Theatre Music' for small orchestra and ‘Fire' a ballet were both premiered in York in 2003. Whilst in 2004 he was asked to write pieces for the young Czech violin virtuoso Jiri Vodicka and internationally renowned Russian Concert Organist, Ekaterina Melnikova, who gave the Russian premiere of his piece ‘Shoah' in Moscow during 2005.
Updated: August 21, 2010
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