Ulster pianist's dream solo slot
A young Belfast-born pianist will be bringing his talents to the stage of one of Ireland's top concert venues later this month.
Michael McHale has been honoured with the National Concert Hall Rising Star 2008 award for his achievements in performance.
This entitles him to a solo recital at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which he will perform on January 30.
"Not only is (the award) of tremendous value to my musical profile, but the opportunity to play in such a prestigious venue is truly fantastic," Michael said.
"I am really looking forward to playing some of the greatest classical piano repertoire to such a large audience."
Recognised as one of the leading young Irish pianists of his generation, Michael's playing has been described as "beautifully proportioned" by the Washington Post and "instantly engaging" by The Times newspaper.
The recital programme will include Geantraí a hAon 'Prelude' by Breffni O'Byrne, winner of The Jerome Hynes Composers Competition 2007, as well as works by Liszt, Beethoven and Debussy.
After early studies in his native Belfast, Michael won a scholarship to study with John O'Conor and R�amonn Keary at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
He graduated at Cambridge University, with a double first honours degree in Music.
He then studied piano with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music as holder of the EMI Music Sound Foundation Scholarship, graduating with distinction in 2006.
He was a piano finalist in both the BBC Young Musician of the Year and Royal Overseas League competitions, won first prize in the 2004 Camerata Ireland Musician of the Year and was winner of the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition.