Dr Michael Ward wrote his first musical composition when he was 7 years old; gave his first public piano recital aged 9; conducted his first major symphony concert whilst still only 16.
In a career that spans some 35 years of professional music making at an international level, he has maintained his interest in all three areas of music making as well as passing his knowledge and skills on to countless of his students; many of whom have international careers themselves.
He is very proud to have founded in 2016, together with his wife the celebrated Georgian concert pianist Ketevan Ward (formerly Ketevan Asatashvili), the British Georgian Music Academy in Tbilisi. Whilst both are now based in London they retain their roles as joint Directors and have also opened a UK branch in London.
Michael’s schedule is extremely full: with a very large repertoire, ranging from pre-Baroque to post-Modern music, he is regularly in demand both in the UK and abroad and has given concerts in many leading concert venues. In addition, Michael has made commercial recordings for Chandos, Doyen and Wilco Records, given numerous broadcasts for BBC, Independent Radio and Television plus numerous live and recorded broadcasts internationally.
He studied conducting with Adrian Leaper and then the late Lawrence Leonard (a pupil of both Eric Kleiber and Ernest Ansermet), piano with Danielle Salamon and the internationally renowned pianist Louis Kentner and following this Michael was invited by both Sir Simon Rattle and Raphael Frubeck de Bourgos to attend their rehearsals with the CBSO and LSO.
Michael had already conducted numerous orchestras, choirs and opera companies in Britain and abroad when he was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in 1990. It was at this time that he was fortunate both to be invited to spend time shadowing Yan Pascal Tortelier (at that time Principal Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and come into contact with the composer and conductor Luciano Berio. In 1991 he was one of only two British conductors invited to participate in the prestigious Besançon International Competition and in the same year he had a similar invitation from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in their search for young conducting talent. Soon after he undertook a tour to Australia and New Zealand where, at the same time he won joint first prize in the 1992 International Musician of the Year Competition held in Auckland.
As a concert pianist, Michael has also given many recitals, concerto performances and chamber music concerts throughout the UK and abroad. With over thirty years of professional music experience as a recitalist and concerto soloist, Michael Ward is a pianist of outstanding gifts. In possession of a prodigious virtuoso technique, deep musical insight and thorough understanding of all the music he performs, Michael is in total command of his art and he uses all his considerable musical and pianistic skills to communicate the music he plays in a sincere and genuine manner to every member of his audience. Michael gave his first public piano recital aged 9 and after a period of study with the celebrated pianist Danielle Salamon he won the International Fritz Gottlieb Memorial Scholarship for excellence in piano performance which resulted in two years’ study in London with Vera Yelverton. During this time, he was offered recitals and concerto performances throughout the UK and consequently Michael was invited to study the piano works of Franz Liszt privately with the famous Hungarian concert pianist Louis Kentner.
Throughout his career, in addition to his concert activities as a soloist, Michael's skills as a piano accompanist and chamber musician have been much sought after by countless instrumentalists, singers and chamber ensembles in music from Baroque to the present day. As a consequence, in all three roles Michael has amassed a vast repertoire and he has given concerts throughout the world in many of the most prestigious venues as well as making numerous commercial recordings and playing for both Radio and Television broadcasts in the UK and abroad.
After a period of study with the renowned English composer Philip Wilby, Michael was awarded a PhD in composition. In 1995, under the auspices of The Park Lane Group, his ‘Night Piece’ for Brass Quintet was given its world premiere by Onyx Brass at the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank and in April of that year he conducted the world premiere of his 1st Symphony, commissioned by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra: another piece, ‘Music for an Imaginary Film’ was premiered by Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra in December 2000. In 1997 he completed a concerto for the internationally renowned horn player David Pyatt. Other works include a String Quartet, given its first performance in 1998 by the Sorrell Quartet, a Piano Sonata premiered in 1999 by the composer as well as ‘Paean’ for massive orchestral forces, soloists and chorus. His ‘Theatre Music’ for small orchestra and ‘Fire’ a ballet were both premiered in York in 2003. More recently he internationally renowned Russian Concert Organist, Ekaterina Melnikova gave the Russian premiere of his piece ‘Shoah’ in Moscow.
Most recently he has published several original works and arrangements for solo piano, solo oboe, as well as numerous songs.
The celebrated Georgian pianist Ketevan Ward (née Asatashvili) was born in Tbilisi in 1987. At the age of 4 she received her first piano lessons from her mother and subsequently gained a much coveted place at the prestigious “Zakaria Paliashvili Music School for Especially Gifted and Talented Children” where she continued her piano studies with Darejan Tsintsadze.
It was not long before Ketevan's considerable musical talent and pianistic ability became apparent: she gave her first public performances both in recitals and as a concerto soloist at the age of 6. In addition Ketevan became a laureate and was awarded a special “artist-musician” prize by the jury at the “Jeunes Pianistes” International Competition in Paris. The following year, at the age of 7 and upon the invitation of the jury she again competed in the “Jeunes Pianistes” International Competition where she became the overall winner.
Further successes came with prizes and awards from International Competitions in Italy and Greece. Subsequently, in 2000 Ketevan was invited to play in the International Festival “Young Musicians Academy” in the Tchaikovsky Hall at the Moscow State Conservatoire.
In 2005 Ketevan was awarded the Alexander Toradze scholarship to study at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire with Svetlana Korsantia. Whilst a student she gained her Bachelors degree, Masters degree and remarkably, in 2011, she gained 100 percent in all her performances as both a soloist and chamber musician. As a result Ketevan was awarded the highly prized “Diploma of Outstanding Artist”.
Ketevan has taken part in numerous Masterclasses including those given by Joaquin Achucarro, Eliso Virsaladze, Dmitri Bashkirov and she has given many concerts throughout Georgia, Russia, Kazakstan France, Germany, Greece, Italy and she made her UK debut in 2018 playing the Grieg Concerto. In addition she has made a number of recordings of music by Brahms, Chopin, Piazzolla, Rachmaninoff, Scarlatti and Scriabin.
Since 2013 Ketevan has been a regular guest performer at the International Music Festival “Night Serenades” at the personal invitation of world renowned international concert violinist and former student of David Oistrakh, Liana Isakadze and where she has performed alongside other such celebrated artists as Sergei Babayan, Viktor Tretiakov, Yuri Zhislin, Igor Pikayzen, Artur Kaganovskiy, Cezar Alvarez, Alexei Ludwig, Denis Shapovalov, Justus Franz, Muhai Tang and The World Chamber Orchestra ‘Virtuosi’.
Amongst Ketevan's various musical commitments she is the Joint-Founder and Director of the British Georgian Music Academy in Tbilisi and London, where she is now based.
SOLO AND CHAMBER REPERTOIRE
Music from 17th to 21st century.
CONCERTO REPERTOIRE includes:
Beethoven Nos.1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
Brahms Nos.1 & 2
Chopin Nos.1 & 2
Liszt Nos.1 & 2
Mendelssohn Nos.1 & 2
Prokofiev Nos.1, 2 & 3
Rachmaninoff Nos.1, 2 & 3
Ravel G major
Tchaikovsky Nos.1 & 2