Barry Douglas, Artistic Director
Barry Douglas has established a major international career since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. As Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland, the only all-Ireland orchestra and the Clandeboye Festival, he continues to celebrate his Irish heritage while also maintaining a busy international touring schedule.
Barry regularly tours in recital in the UK and USA, and has performed with orchestras across the globe, from North America to Europe to China and Russia. Marking the 30th anniversary of his Tchaikovsky International Competition Gold Medal during the 2016/17 season, Barry performed the full cycle of three Tchaikovsky Piano Concerti in Ireland with the RTE Orchestra of Dublin and the Ulster Orchestra of Belfast, in addition to opening St. Petersburg Philharmonic’s concert season and several Tchaikovsky concerto performances with the London Symphony.
Barry has performed with major symphony orchestras around the world such as the Vancouver Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Berlin Radio Symphony, Staatskapelle Halle, Barcelona Symphony, Prague Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Russian National Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, under conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Colin Davis, Mariss Jansons, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, Leonard Slatkin, Yuri Temirkanov, and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. Barry’s recent orchestral highlights include a major UK tour with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, BBC Proms in the Park with the Ulster Orchestra, and premiering Kevin Volan’s 4th piano concerto with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
As a highly sought-after recitalist and chamber musician, Barry has presented an array of solo recitals across the globe, from Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican, Wigmore Hall, to the Verbier Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, the Grand Theatre in Shanghai, and touring the United States most recently in February 2020.
Barry is an exclusive Chandos recording artist. He recently completed recording the complete works for solo piano of Brahms, the six albums of which have received much critical praise. International Record Review wrote that “this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority... this cycle looks set to become a benchmark version.” Each of the six discs is a mixture of Sonata, Ballades, Intermezzi, Fantasies, Capriccio, and Variations, presenting each disc as a musical journey as if a solo recital. Also on Chandos, Barry explores Irish folk music by arranging ancient melodies with contemporary song-writers: “Celtic Reflections” and “Celtic Airs.”
Barry Douglas received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List for his services to music, and Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in Her Majesty The Queen's 2021 New Year’s Honours List – one of the UK’s highest honors.
Camerata Ireland US Tour 2023
In 1999 Barry Douglas founded the chamber orchestra Camerata Ireland to celebrate and nurture the very best of young musicians from both the North and the South of the Republic of Ireland. The orchestra’s inaugural concerts were given at the Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast and the State Apartments in Dublin, bringing together fine Irish musicians holding top positions in major British and European orchestras to celebrate, in Barry Douglas’s own words, 'the wealth of Irish musical talent'.
Barry regularly tours with Camerata Ireland throughout the world and most recently visited the United States in the spring of 2018. The world-wide reputation of Barry Douglas has been an immense stimulus for interest in Camerata Ireland which made the success of many coast-to-coast tours of the USA since its establishment: having appeared in the Smithsonian Festival at the Library of Congress in 2007 and debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2011.
The orchestra has also performed in South America, Italy, Germany, Poland, China, and in France a Mozart Piano Concerto cycle at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Their annual international series has taken them to the Cadogan Hall in London, the National Concert Hall of Dublin, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the National Auditorium of Madrid. Highlights of past seasons were Camerata Ireland’s debut at the BBC Proms in London, at the Royal Opera of the Château de Versailles, and a world premiere of a new cantata commissioned by The Honourable Irish Society, “At Sixes and Sevens”, alongside the London Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Derry-Londonderry becoming City of Culture 2013.
Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland organize the Clandeboye Festival outside Belfast every August, which has become the major summer musical event in Northern Ireland. The festival is centered around workshops and masterclasses for young musicians, many of whom go on to perform with Camerata Ireland, and are led by Barry Douglas and other international artists. Support for young musicians is central to Camerata Ireland's ethos: in addition to striving for musical excellence, one of the orchestra’s aims is to further the peace process in Ireland by promoting dialogue and collaboration through its musical education programs.
Following the orchestras 20th anniversary celebration in 2019-20, Barry and Camerata Ireland overcame the Covid-19 restrictions with a series of streamed concerts: Clandeboye At Home: Beethoven 250 with Barry leading and playing all five Beethoven Concerts, reprising his 2008 Satirino Records release of the concerto cycle.
In January 2020, Camerata Ireland launched a side-by-side orchestral initiative with the Royal Irish Academy of Music, giving young RIAM musicians the opportunity to take part in rehearsals and concerts and a deeper insight into how a professional orchestra works on a daily basis through an immersive training experience.
Camerata Ireland is one of only two organizations to have been honored with the joint Patronage of Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland and Her Majesty The Queen. Camerata Ireland is deeply grateful for the support of its Global Sponsor Randox laboratories, and is also supported by Culture Ireland, the Northern Ireland Arts Council, and the Arts Council of Ireland.
Barry’s Sligo-born mother helped him discover a love for traditional music, which has seen him set up Celtic Orbit - a musical collaboration between acclaimed pianist Barry Douglas and Eimear McGeown (Irish Flute and Whistle), Catriona McKay (Scottish Harp) and Chris Stout (Shetland Fiddle). Having released a 2016 Chandos album titled “Celtic Airs” dedicated to exploring Irish folklore traditions, Barry, Eimear, Catriona, and Chris officially launched the Celtic Orbit ensemble in Belfast and Paris.
Irish flautist Eimear McGeown has steadily built a reputation as being one of the world's most versatile exponents of both the classical and Irish flute. She has appeared as a soloist throughout the USA, South America, South Korea, Japan, China, The Philippines, Russia and Europe. Two of her most notable solo performances have been on BBC's Last Night of the Proms and the World Premiere of Dave Morris’ Concerto in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. In recognition of her achievements in the Performing Arts, Eimear received an invitation by Her Majesty the Queen to attend a Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace.
Eimear recently recorded for an American PBS TV special for composer/pianist Tim Janis' new album and performed with him in her Carnegie Hall debut in December 2019. She has recorded with pianist Barry Douglas on two of his Celtic albums, in addition to performing them together with Camerata Ireland at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Both as a classical and traditional Irish flautist, she has performed for Presidents Bill Clinton, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese, Prince Charles and Prince Edward.
Catriona McKay is a diverse musician who pushes one of Scotland’s traditional instruments - the Scottish harp - to its limits. Through her composition and performances worldwide she is widely recognized for her unique style, inventiveness and daring rhythmic use of the Scottish harp. Her music, while based in Scottish Folk tradition, is yet contemporary and above all adventurous and exciting. In a duo with fiddler Chris Stout (Instrumentalist of the Year 2013, Scots Trad. Music Awards), Catrinoa and Chris explore sounds that connect and challenge through a dynamic and adventurous dialogue of their native Scottish music.
It is this special long standing musical partnership (BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 'Best Duo') that forms an invaluable dimension to their creative output. Their highly acclaimed self-penned and self-orchestrated albums White Nights and Bare Knuckle have been performed with orchestras in Brazil, Russia, Norway, and with the Scottish Ensemble. Most recently, Catriona and Chris appeared at the Celtic Connections Festival 2021 in Glasgow, UK.