Nico de Villiers

Instrument: Piano

South African-born pianist Nico de Villiers is a coach, accompanist and researcher based in London. He holds degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Michigan, as well as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Nico appeared as soloist across the UK, Sweden and South Africa. Most recently he performed the Mozart Concerto No 20 in d minor (K 466) with the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra in London and Mozart Concerto No. 21 in C major (K 467) with the Gauteng Chamber Orchestra in South Africa.

Nico made his Queen Elizabeth Hall debut performing Gershwin’s 'Rhapsody in Blue’ (two pianos) in London, in July 2018. He will return to the Southbank Centre in Spring 2019 to make his Royal Festival Hall debut with the London Mozart Players (conductor: Daniel Ludford-Thomas) performing Schumann's Concerto in a minor (op. 54) in the Spring of 2019. Nico is on the piano faculties of the Piano Week International Festival & Summer School, the Jablonski Piano Academy, and the University of Bristol.

Regularly performing as collaborative pianist to singers and chamber musicians, Nico performed in recital at the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Barbican, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; the Kammermusiksaal in Bonn, Germany and the Mozarteum Grosser Saal in Salzburg. Festival performances include performances at the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Chopin Birthday Festival in Warsaw, Poland, and the International Johannesburg Mozart Festival in South Africa.

As repetiteur Nico worked with various groups including the BBC Singers, Cumbernauld Choir (Glasgow), opera scenes performances for the Oxenfoord Summer Programme (Scotland), the Aderley International Music School (England), and Queens Park Singers. Nico has been the assistant director of music of the Lewisham Choral Society since 2009.

Nico worked as vocal coach at various institutions including the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, Trinity Laban Conservatory, Royal College of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Masterclasses and workshops include institutions such as Florida State University, University of Portland, the Birmingham Conservatory, Kungliga Musikhögskolan in Stockholm, and the University of Stellenbosch, Pretoria.

In the summer of 2018 Nico was invited by the Royal Opera House Jette Parker Young Artist Programme to join conductor Dominic Wheeler (Head of Opera, Guildhall School of Music and Drama) to be a vocal coach and accompanist for an outreach scheme in South Africa.

Nico has been on the faculties of various summer programmes including the Oxenfoord Summer Programme in Scotland, the Abingdon Summer School of Solo Singers, Aderley International Music School in England, the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, and the International Music Academy in Plzen, Czech Republic. Nico is currently a coach on the vocal faculty of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and a regular visiting coach at the Royal College of Music, in London.

As a researcher Nico has a particular interest in the unearthing and performance of neglected and undiscovered composers. In 2008 Nico performed a complete series of the piano chamber music of Hungarian pianist-conductor-composer Ernst von Dohnányi at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Nico made the first recording of Polish pianist-composer André Tchaikowsky’s Piano Sonata and features in the documentary Rebel of the Keys which focuses on Tchaikowsky’s life and the revival of his opera The Merchant of Venice.

Nico performed some of Tchaikowsky’s piano works and songs in the UK, Poland and South Africa. Nico’s doctoral research at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama focused on the songs of Richard Hageman. His thesis title was The Becoming of a Song Composer: A critical re-evaluation of Richard Hageman and his songs which discusses the cosmopolitanism present in and development of Hageman’s artistic identity. In 2011 Nico founded the Richard Hageman Society (RHS) to focus scholarship and research into the work and life of this Dutch-born American composer.

As director of the RHS Nico opened the Richard Hageman Aqueduct as well as unveiled a memorial plaque at Hageman’s birthplace in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Nico widely performed Hageman’s songs, curated exhibitions of the RHS archives, and presented various lecture recitals and presentations at conferences and symposiums in the UK, the USA, and the Netherlands.

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