LSO Local

LSO Chamber Ensemble
31 July 2021

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Dmitri Shostakovich Five Pieces for two violins and piano
Pablo de Sarasate Navarra
Daniel Kidane Dappled Light
Trad arr Michael McHale Cailín ó cois tSuire Mé; My Lagan Love
Franz Liszt Concert paraphrase on Verdi’s ‘Rigoletto’


Maxine Kwok violin
Laura Dixon violin
Michael McHale piano

About the Concert
Maxine Kwok, LSO First Violin

Thank you so much for being at this LSO Local concert today. The chamber concerts we put on for last year's LSO Local weekend were so enthusiastically received, we've been really looking forward to playing for the local community again here at LSO St Luke's.

As an orchestral violinist it's wonderful to have the chance to strip music right back to duos so I'm delighted that Laura Dixon, fellow member of the First Violins, could join me with her husband, the wonderful pianist Michael McHale.

We present a varied range of music today, including a piece written during lockdown by the immensely talented composer Daniel Kidane – music that perfectly suits this beautiful space. The choices of eclectic piano repertoire will be explained during the concert by Michael who will be able to give the perfect pronunciation of these Irish traditional themes for anyone going cross-eyed reading them!

The Shostakovich, for anyone who might be familiar with his huge symphonic works, will come as quite a surprise and we can't wait for you to discover this gem as we did. Navarra by Sarasate is a personal favourite of mine and is a wonderful piece for violinists to – quite frankly – show off and have some fun with the schmaltzy melodies.

There will be a Q&A section during the concert so please don't hesitate to ask us questions about this programme or about our musical lives in general.

We really hope you'll enjoy sharing in this music with us today, and thank you – by being here you are supporting the LSO.

LSO First Violin Maxine Kwok stands with a violin against a dark background.

Musicians On Stage

Maxine Kwok
LSO First Violin

LSO First Violin Maxine Kwok smiling, holding a violin

Maxine began her professional orchestral career touring with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the Academy of St Martins-in-the-fields whilst still a first year student at the Royal Academy of Music. She successfully auditioned for a place on the London Symphony Orchestra string experience scheme whilst at the Royal Academy of Music and became a permanent member of the First Violins in 2001 after graduating with an ARAM and a first class honours degree.

Maxine’s career with the LSO has taken her to countless countries around the globe including tours across Asia, South America and frequent trips to Europe. The orchestra performs up to 150 concerts a year at their home in the Barbican Centre and abroad.

Highlights of her time in the LSO include performing at the historic 100 year birthday concert for the LSO in 2004 and also at the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies. Maxine was honoured to be featured as one of five 'Musicians behind the Moment', an advertising campaign by the Musicians Union in 2018. She was also featured with a four page article in Musician magazine the following year.

Maxine can be seen on YouTube in a series of online masterclasses for the LSO and on the digital concert resource LSO Play. She features on the LSO's YouTube channel in two duo recitals filmed at LSO St Luke’s, one of which was the very first concert the orchestra ever streamed live online. She was also invited to interview Nikolai Znaider to discuss his thoughts on Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto as part of the LSO's 2015 Violin Festival.

Laura Dixon
LSO First Violin

LSO First Violin Laura Dixon smiling

Born in Surrey, Laura Dixon started the violin at the age of nine, and several years later began lessons at the junior department of the Royal College of Music. She went on to complete her undergraduate studies at the RCM as a foundation scholar, studying with Rodney Friend and Yossi Zivoni.

Laura has recorded, broadcast and toured with many of the leading UK orchestras including the LSO, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and Aurora Orchestra among others, as well as doing session work recording scores for film, television and commercials. Laura has performed as a Guest Principal with various ensembles, including live BBC Radio 3 and BBC 4 television broadcasts at the BBC Proms. She joined the First Violin section of the LSO in 2018.

Michael McHale

Pianist Michael McHale smiling next to a brick wall

Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician.

He has performed and recorded as a soloist with the Minnesota and Hallé Orchestras, the Moscow, Bournemouth, Jacksonville, Fort Smith, BBC and London Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest.

Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, Irish Piano Concertos on RTÉ lyric fm, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano and Strauss' Burleske on Chandos. His discography of over twenty-five albums includes eight duo recital albums on Chandos with clarinettist Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio, Portraits on Cedille, featured special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali and was released in 2017, immediately entering the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Releases in 2020 include a recording of Richard Rodney Bennett's Piano Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Wilson for Chandos.

A commitment to new music has seen Michael give first performances and recordings of music by composers including Valentin Silvestrov, Valerie Coleman, John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Tyshawn Sorey, Chris Rogerson, Abbie Betinis, Bill Whelan, Siobhán Cleary, Edward Gregson, Jennifer Walshe, Cliff Eidelman, Luke Bedford and Linda Buckley, as well as concerto world premières by Irish composers Garrett Sholdice (with Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Irish Chamber Orchestra) and Philip Hammond (with Nicholas Collon and the Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio 3).

Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music.

In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed lecturer in piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the MTU Cork School of Music in Ireland.

Audience in LSO St Luke's

Thank You for Watching

The London Symphony Orchestra was established in 1904. Through inspiring music, educational programmes and technological innovations, the LSO’s reach extends far beyond the concert hall.

Still to Come this Weekend

Blurred Boundaries
Sat 31 Jul 8pm & Sun 1 Aug 7pm, LSO St Luke's

Warping the lines between classical and pop, Co-Principal Percussionist Sam Walton curates a genre-bending concert conducted by Colin Currie. With music from Mercury-Prize nominated Anna Meredith, Steve Reich and Max Richter.

Tickets: £8 (£6 concessions)

LSO Brass Ensemble

LSO Brass Ensemble
Sun 1 Aug 11am & 1pm, LSO St Luke's

LSO Brass players and friends showcase their musicianship and chemistry in this free concert at LSO St Luke’s. You might hear something you know and love or discover something new and extraordinary.

Tickets: Free, available now

Plus our Summer Shorts concerts are back on Fridays through August – small groups of musicians play music that crosses genres and generations, and answer your questions. Everyone welcome, pay what you can!

And BMW Classics returns – our free, open-air summer concert in Trafalgar Square.

Cellists perform in an ambiently lit LSO St Luke's

Soundhub recording 2021 ©

Soundhub recording 2021 ©

Support the LSO and LSO St Luke's

The importance of music and the arts has never been more apparent than in recent months, as we’ve been inspired, comforted and entertained throughout this unprecedented period.

As we emerge from the most challenging period of a generation, please consider supporting our Always Playing Appeal to sustain the Orchestra and our venue LSO St Luke's, assist our recovery from the pandemic and allow us to continue sharing music with the broadest range of people possible.

Every donation will help to support our future.

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