British/Irish pianist Nicholas Ross is Associate Professor of Music at Sweet Briar College, where he teaches applied piano, music theory and music history. He performs extensively in Europe and the United States, both as soloist and chamber musician.
As the pianist of the James Piano Quartet, he performs with Jana Ross, violin, Joe Nigro, viola, and Wesley Baldwin, cello. The JPQ are touring artists on the roster of the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and they perform throughout Virginia. They are Artists-in-Residence at the burgeoning Wintergreen Summer Music Festival, where Ross also performed with the Wintergreen Chamber Players during the past four summers. This academic year the JPQ will complete their debut recording of chamber music by Arthur Honegger. They are also involved in commissioning and performing new works. They have premiered compositions written for them by Jonathan Green, Joelle Wallach, and Kent Holliday.
Ross is also active as a solo pianist and recording artist. His first solo CD American Impressions: Music from the Whalehead Club, recorded on an historic 1907 Steinway, was released on the Soundside label in 2003. Critic Dave Lewis of AllMusic.com called this a "fabulous program of American music". His next recording, John Powell: Early Piano Music, (Centaur Records, 2007), was described as "both surprising and highly enjoyable" (AllMusic.com) and Ross’s performance was praised as "dedicated, clean and forthright, no small feat as some of the music […] is written at a treacherously difficult level". William Keindler of Music Web International wrote of the recording: "Nicholas Ross’s playing and advocacy [of John Powell] are both to be applauded. He handles the entire range of emotional and technical expertise required by these works almost effortlessly." The American Record Guide selected the recording for its list ‘best of 2007’ and the disc has been played frequently on classical NPR stations around the country. Ross’ latest recording is Kent Holliday: A Piano Odyssey (released Fall 2009), recorded with pianist Dr. Emily Yap Chua. This recording, made under Dr. Holliday’s guidance, includes Milongalgusto, written and dedicated to Ross in 2006. Ross is currently working on the final edits of a recording of the complete songs of Arthur Honegger with singers Sinan Vural and Claudia Patacca, recorded in January and May of 2010.
Ross earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from Rice University in Houston, Texas, and also holds degrees in piano performance from the Twente Conservatoire (UM) in Holland and Trinity College of Music in London (DipTCL), as well as a Masters degree in Applied Mathematics from Twente University. His primary piano professors were Benno Pierweijer, John Bingham, and John Perry.
Highlights from his years in England and Holland include performances of concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninov and the premiere of a piano concerto by the Belgian composer, Andre Waignein, which was recorded and broadcast by the Dutch radio station NCRV. Nicholas was the winner of numerous prizes and awards at Trinity, both as soloist and accompanist, which included the John Longmire Award and the John Ireland Accompanist’s Prize. While in London he gave recitals in, among other places, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Southwark Cathedral, and Steinway Hall. He also appeared in Graham Johnson’s The Young Songmaker’s Almanac at St. John Smith’s Square. In 1995 he was awarded the English Speaking Union/John Meyer Scholarship, which enabled him to study with John Perry at the Aspen Music Festival. Following this he moved to the U.S. to continue his studies with Mr. Perry at Rice University. During his time at Rice, he gained a fine reputation as a performer of new music, giving Houston premieres of works by Arthur Gottshalk, Steve Mackey, and Philip Martin.
From 2000 to 2002, Nicholas lived in Denver with his wife, Jana, who was a violinist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. In the Denver Friends of Chamber Music series, he gave the American premiere of Philip Martin’s Soundings and performed The Wager at the Eldorado Saloon with composer Jon Deak. He also performed in the Modern Music Festival and Boulder Public Library Series. Nicholas was featured as onstage pianist in the Tony Award-winning Denver Center Theater Company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as performing as symphonic pianist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on numerous occasions. He also collaborated regularly with many Colorado Symphony members including Yumi Hwang Williams, concertmaster, Peter Cooper, principal oboe, and Bil Jackson, principal clarinet. For light relief, Nick was a member of Extasis, a Denver-based tango quartet. He was also featured on the Denver Theatre Company’s video The Arts Matter, which was intended to prevent proposed cuts to the Arts in Colorado.
Since moving to Virginia, Nick has performed solo recitals in Corrales, New Mexico; Mary Baldwin College, Virginia; Houston, Texas; Virginia Tech; Sweet Briar College in Virginia; and Dewsbury, England. In recent years, he has performed concertos with the Blue Ridge Chamber Orchestra, and the New River Valley Orchestra. His concerto repertoire includes concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninov. He has also performed extensively in Ireland, in Limerick (UL Concert Hall and the Jean Monet Theatre), Dublin (the John Field Room) and Listowel (St. John’s Hall), and he has been featured on Lyric FM, the Republic of Ireland’s classical radio station. In 2006 Nick performed a series of recitals with Turkish baritone Sinan Vural in Virginia and Holland, and in 2009 and 2010 he collaborated with Sinan and Dutch soprano Claudia Patacca on a concert and recording of Honegger. He also performed with pianist Gustavo Romero in Saint-Saën’s Carnival of the Animals in September 2008, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg.
Apart from his performing interests, Dr. Ross is also involved in scholarly research focusing on a range of topics. In particular he is interested in the use of proportional structures in the music of Claude Debussy, Mozart and Chopin. He has uncovered the original use of Fibonacci series and golden section in the construction of Debussy’s Images (expanding upon and modifying the earlier work of famed Debussy scholar, Roy Howat). His cd notes for his John Powell recording were widely praised in reviews, and he continues to write and research program notes for his upcoming recordings.