Leon McCawley

Leon McCawley is one of Britain's foremost pianists.

He has forged a highly successful career since winning 1st Prize in the 1993 International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and 2nd Prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, building on his earlier success as Winner of the Piano Section of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1990.

Since then, McCawley’s impressive discography has established him as a pianist of great integrity and variety, bringing freshness and vitality to classical, romantic and 20th century repertoire. His 2015 CD of Rachmaninov’s Complete Preludes for Somm Recordings is no exception: ’a distinguished issue’ (Gramophone May 2015) and ’Leon McCawley is a real poet of the keyboard in these performances that are alive to Rachmaninov’s wonderful melodic invention’ (The Classical Reviewer March 2015).

McCawley has been praised for the purity of his lyrical and heartfelt playing. In April 2011 he performed the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas over one weekend at King’s Place, London in winning performances: ’There's absolutely no vanity in his playing, which is bright, clean and unfailingly communicative. In his hands the Mozartian oeuvre emerged with striking vividness’ (International Piano). Other notable recitals in past seasons include the London Piano Series at the Wigmore Hall (where he returns for two recitals in 2016) and the International Piano Series at London’s Southbank Centre.

He can be frequently heard on BBC Radio 3 both in performance and interview with most recent broadcasts including In Tune, Wigmore Hall Lunchtime Series and Performance on 3. As a concerto soloist, McCawley performs with leading orchestras and conductors from all over the world and has performed several times at BBC Proms.

McCawley studied at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester with Heather Slade-Lipkin before continuing his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia with Eleanor Sokoloff. He also received invaluable guidance from Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Nina Milkina and Murray Perahia. 


His most recent recording is Vaughan Williams Double Piano Concerto with John Lenehan and Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates (Dutton Epoch) , described as ‘not been better served on record before’ and awarded 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine. Leon McCawley is currently professor of piano at London's Royal College of Music.