Cappa Ensemble

Cappa Ensemble

Suyeon Kang, violin
Adam Newman, viola
Brian O’Kane, cello
Michael McHale, piano


Since its breakthrough success at the 2007 Royal Over-Seas League Competition, Cappa Ensemble has emerged as a group of outstanding promise. After winning Music Network's Young Musicwide Award in 2009, concert tours around Ireland, appearances at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Radio France-Montpellier Festival, Verbier Festival and broadcasts on RTÉ Lyric FM, BBC Radio 3 and Radio France soon followed. The ensemble has enjoyed collaborative projects with artists such as Nicholas Daniel, Pekka Kussisto and Jörg Widmann and its repertoire has evolved with a strong focus on both the piano quartet and string trio idioms. They have toured extensively in Australasia and Japan and they made their Wigmore Hall début in December 2008. Their first album release on the Nimbus Alliance label was recorded at the CIT Cork School of Music Curtis Auditorium with award-winning producer Andrew Walton, and features piano quartets by Bridge, Bax, Walton and Irish composer Ian Wilson.

In 2009, Cappa Ensemble studied with the Artemis Quartet at the Queen Elizabeth School of Music, Belgium and held a Fellowship at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. They have also performed in masterclass to renowned musicians Gabor Takacs-Nagy, Ralf Gothoni and Alfred Brendel. The ensemble takes its name from the famous 17th century Italian violin-maker Gioffredo Cappa.

Suyeon Kang was born in 1989 in South Korea. At the age of 6 she received her first violin lesson in Canberra, Australia with Josette Esquedin-Morgan. Since then she has studied with Alice Waten and Goetz Richter as a scholarship student in institutions such as the Australian Institute of Music, Australian National Academy of Music, and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. At the end of 2007 she relocated to Germany, and is presently a student and assistant of Professor Daniel Gaede at the Hochschule fuer Musik Nuernberg, Germany. She is rapidly approaching success on the international stage as a young soloist. In April 2010 she was awarded 3rd prize in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition held in Oslo, Norway, performing Prokofiev’s 2nd violin concerto with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) in the finals. In 2009 she was one of the five semi-finalists and the recipient of a special prize in the International Leopold Mozart Competition held in Augsburg, performing the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. In 2008 she was one of the finalists in the European Auditions (Leipzig, Germany) of the Young Concert Artists Competition based in New York.
Since moving to Germany she has been awarded several scholarships and prizes such as: the Nuernberger Nachrichten Prize (2008); Chamber Music prize of the Nuernberg Mozart Society (Kammermusikwettbewerbs des Mozart Vereins Nuernberg) (2009); the Sparda-Bank Scholarship (2009) and the DAAD prize (2010) awarded by the university to a student demonstrating musical and academic excellence.
Prior to commencing her studies in Germany, Kang was the outright winner of the Symphony Australia Young Performer’s Awards in 2005 at the age of 16. In previous years she was the winner of the 2MBS Young Performer’s Awards, the Queensland Youth Concerto Competition and the Junior Section/ Multiple Concerto Section of the Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Concerto Competition. She was recipient of several Australian music scholarships such as the Dorothy Fraser, Dorcas McClean, Big Brother, and the Vasanta scholarships.

Born in 1984, Adam Newman graduated with first class honours from the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Philip Dukes and Gyorgy Pauk. He also studied in the class of Tatjana Masurenko at the Hochshule fur Music in Leipzig. During his time at the Academy, Adam had considerable success in both competitions and recitals, including a Sir John Barbirolli Foundation Award towards the purchase of a new bow and the Duchess of Cornwall / English Chamber Music Award. He was also a recent finalist at the Windsor International String Competition where he was awarded the Bishops Instruments and Bows Prize. Adam enjoys working with the London Steve Reich Ensemble (who recently recorded for the CPO label in Zurich, Switzerland), the English Chamber Orchestra, the Razumovsky Ensemble, the London Conchord Ensemble and the Aronowitz Ensemble.

Born in 1985, Irish cellist Brian O’Kane is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded the Jacqueline Du Pre Scholarship to continue his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Brian has also studied at the International Musicians Seminar with renowned musicians such as Ralph Kirshbaum, Gabor Takacs-Nagy and Steven Isserlis. As winner of the 2007 Accenture Bursary Award and the Camerata Ireland Young Musician of the Year Award, Brian performed as soloist with Camerata Ireland under Barry Douglas and with the Philharmonia Orchestra at Highgrove. Brian came to prominence by taking first prize at the Windsor Festival International String Competition and subsequently performed Elgar’s cello concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Brian has toured extensively throughout the Far East, Australasia and Europe. He has collaborated with artists such as the Vanbrugh Quartet, Michael Collins, Anthony Marwood and Alasdair Beatson. Brian has appeared at many festivals and concert halls throughout the U.K and Ireland including the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and Series, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, St. Martin in the Fields, Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square and the Barbican.

Belfast-born pianist Michael McHale has established himself as one of the leading Irish pianists of his generation. Since completing his studies at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music he has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. Michael has performed at many important musical centres including Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Lincoln Center, New York, Konzerthaus, Berlin, Pesti Vigadó, Budapest, the Ushuaia and Tanglewood Festivals, and for TV and radio broadcasts throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.
His début solo album ‘The Irish Piano’ was released in 2012 on the RTÉ lyric fm label, and has already been featured on national radio in France, Canada, the USA, Italy, and the UK. The disc was selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by critic Norman Lebrecht, who described it as “a scintillating recital…fascinating from start to stop”, whilst Gramophone praised “the singing sensibility of McHale's sensitive and polished pianism”.
Michael has performed frequently as concerto soloist with the Hallé, Bournemouth Symphony and Moscow Symphony orchestras, the Teatro Colon Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Boston’s Discovery Ensemble and all five of the major Irish orchestras in repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Gershwin and Rachmaninov.
A recent début with the Irish Chamber Orchestra saw Michael deputise for the indisposed Leon Fleisher in a performance of Prokofiev’s Left Hand Concerto with Gérard Korsten, which was broadcast worldwide on a live online video stream. Upcoming engagements include a performance of Liszt Concerto No.2 with the Ulster Orchestra, Gershwin Concerto with the RTÉ NSO and a collaboration with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Gábor Takács-Nagy.
In addition to winning first prize and the audience prize at the prestigious Terence Judd/Hallé Award finals in 2009 (previous winners include Nikolai Lugansky and Stephen Hough), Michael was awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition and the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award. His teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas.
Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Ensemble Avalon and the Cappa Ensemble, and his discography includes recordings for Chandos, RTÉ lyric fm, Louth CMS and Lorelt.



""…Why can the playing of 25-year old Northern Irish pianist Michael McHale be as fluent and inspired as, say, Lang Lang, and yet we don't know him? …Michael McHale remains the discovery of the evening: a magician who glides across the keys…""

Christiane Peitz, Der Tagesspiegel, August 2008

"The Cappa’s performance was persuasive….There was subtlety and power in the playing… [a] spot-on performance."

Michael Dervan, Irish Times, November 2010

"This is the debut CD of the Cappa Ensemble, winners of Music Network’s Young Musicwide Award in 2009. The Cappa allow rather more light into Bridge’s Phantasy for piano quartet and Walton’s youthful Piano Quartet than the Frith Ensemble, also on Nimbus. It’s as if fat has been burned off to show more muscular musical outlines. And there’s no underselling of the exuberance of the Walton, with its insistently chunky rhythms in the finale. The performances of Bax’s Piano Quartet and Ian Wilson’s Noct , an atmospheric night piece that’s anything but calming (especially in its use of microtones), is equally fine. This is hardly surprising in the case of the Wilson – it was specially written for these players."

Michael Dervan, Irish Times, 5 Star CD review, May 2013


Cappa Ensemble: Walton's Piano Quartet in D minor - Andante Tranquillo

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