Musician in Residence Derry-Londonderry
As a young boy pianist and composer Neil Cowley studied at London’s Royal Academy where his prodigious talent saw him performing a Shostakovich piano concerto at the age of 10. Turning his back on his classical career early on, he entered the world of old school RnB, soul and funk and by the age of 17 had begun to work with many successful bands including The Brand New Heavies, Zero 7, and his own chill-out duo, Fragile State.
In 2005, disillusioned with making computer-based music, Cowley returned to his first love, the acoustic piano and formed the Neil Cowley Trio.
Defined by powerful riffs countered by poignant, delicate passages and witty, whimsical romps, Cowley’s jazz-meets-rock ethic has earned him plaudits from across the musical spectrum. To date they have released four albums – Displaced (2006, winner of the 2007 BBC Jazz Award for Best Album), Loud… Louder… Stop (2008, hailed by Mojo as a “Modern Classic”), Radio Silence (2010), and their current, highly acclaimed release, The Face of Mount Molehill (2012), a recording that nourishes Cowley’s fondness for grand, commanding sounds and showcases his burgeoning talent as a composer and arranger for trio and strings.
Cowley has an instinctive flair and ingenuity as an entertainer, and is renowned for his captivating live performances which maintain a quirky, English sense of humour at their core. His trio have performed extensively around the globe, and have appeared at the worlds most prestigious jazz festivals alongside a triumphant set of dates in the US in 2012.
Neil Cowley’s incredible versatility as a composer has seen him producing themes to a number of television programmes, commercials, and documentaries. In 2011, Cowley appeared in the Sky Arts programme First Love working with comedienne and lapsed pianist Sue Perkins to conquer her fears of self worth to perform a Beethoven Sonata at the Cheltenham Festival.
Further projects in 2012 included working with London’s Wigmore Hall Learning Programme to create an interactive concert for children based on the acclaimed children’s story, Mr Big, by author and animator Ed Vere. Through the creation of a jazz soundtrack, he sensitively and humorously tackled the subject of bullying.
Over the past years, Cowley has been sought for soul and pop acts that require a jazz technique and rhythmic suppleness to their artful pop hits. His work with Adele on 19 and her global chart topper, 21 made him quite literally 2011’s most listened to pianist on the planet.
About his residency Neil told us:
“I am truly honoured, proud and excited to be named Musician in Residence for Derry-Londonderry in 2013, as it enjoys it’s status as the inaugural ‘UK City of Culture’. My passion for this position and the forthcoming projects associated with it have been the soundtrack to my existence in the recent months leading up to this. Now finally I can begin a year of discovery, fun and fulfilment as I get to unravel the musical heart of this unique city and it’s people”