As one of the UK’s foremost cellists of his generation, Richard May has pursued an international career as soloist and chamber musician, performing many of the major cello concertos with such orchestras as the Basel Symphony, Ulster and BBC Philharmonic, and appearing throughout the UK, North and South America, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Andorra, Ukraine, South Africa, Japan, including performances at the Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Barbican and South Bank Centres, and at festivals in Salzburg, Berlin, London and Aldeburgh. He has performed live on television and radio, both nationally and internationally, and features as soloist in works for cello and choir on a Naxos CD “All Shall be Well”, including the World Premiere recording of Roxanna Panufnik’s work of the same name, which has been highly praised by the press, and was chosen as Rob Cowan’s CD of the week for his BBC Radio 3 programme. Richard has performed as solo cellist in world premieres by composers Bob Chilcott and John Joubert.
Following on from winning the BBC TV Young Musician of the Year String Category, his London debut recital at the Purcell Room included the world premiere of Five Duos for cello and piano by Colin Matthews, written for him. A recital of Bach Solo Suites in Switzerland gained critical acclaim for “absolute perfection and virtuosity”. He also gave a televised recital for the ITV series “ Solo”, featuring British musicians, and has performed as soloist and chamber musician with Nigel Kennedy.
Richard studied in London with Florence Hooton, winning a Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, and privately with William Pleeth, then later with Thomas Demenga at the Basel Konservatorium. He also won awards to study at Banff, Canada, Yale, USA, Prussia Cove, UK and La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, with such artists as Paul Tortelier, Aldo Parisot, Ralph Kirshbaum, and chamber music with Andras Schiff. Past prizes include the National Federation of Music Societies Award and the EMI Jacqueline Du Pre Competition, when The Times wrote of the Shostakovich Sonata “simply one of the most gripping performances I have heard”.
Richard was cellist of the Angell Piano Trio for nearly twenty years, who were Ensemble-in-Residence at Aldeburgh and performed throughout the world, frequently for radio. He has collaborated with artists such as guitarist Craig Ogden, pianists Olena Shvetsova, Vadim Gladkov, Katya Apekisheva and the Brodsky Quartet, and has recorded for Chandos, ASV, Priory, Sanctuary and Lorelt labels.
As a highly regarded teacher, he is a former Professor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and currently teaches at Wells Cathedral Specialist Music School, the University of Bristol, and regularly gives lessons and online masterclasses to students around the world. He is co-founder and Artistic Director of Encore Music Projects International Summer School. Richard was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2000, in recognition of his significant contribution to the music profession, and plays an Old English cello of 1789, by William Forster.