Roy Holmes, piano

One of Ireland's foremost pianists and piano teachers, Roy Holmes holds qualifications from Queen's University Belfast, RCM London, Hochschule für Musik Vienna, Indiana University, Bloomington, and Temple University, Philadelphia. He has considerable experience as a soloist and chamber musician and is a lecturer in the Keyboard Department at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin. Born in Carrickfergus Co. Antrim, he has a particular interest in piano music by Northern Irish composers.

His preoccupation with technique was first inspired by his studies with Dieter Weber in Vienna, where he spent three years. As a pianist and teacher Weber had an open mind and was constantly thinking and rethinking his approach to piano technique. This apprenticeship prepared Roy for his studies with the legendary György Sebök at Indiana University. Here the technical focus changed from fingers to include the rest of the body. A few years later, now working on his own, he became fully under the influence of the weight transfer/rotation method; the fingers had become almost completely redundant with the sound being made by a constant rotation or a constant dropping and lifting and levering at the wrist, or further up the arm. The catalyst for rethinking this approach was a performance of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Ulster Orchestra, when he found it impossible to use the rotational method with any degree of speed, combining brilliance and reliability. During a year's study with Harvey Wedeen at Temple University, Roy moved towards a personal technical synthesis. He first realised the importance of being able to aim simultaneously (or almost so) to different depths with different fingers of the same hand.

The journey towards technical resolution in piano playing has preoccupied Roy Holmes throughout his professional life. He continues his Odyssey with a soon to be published book entitled More Power to your Fingers, which will include an edition of selected Préludes and Études by Chopin. In the coming year he will launch a series of workshops/lectures round the country for both teachers and students, to raise awareness of technical issues and discuss his ideas in the book.

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