Barry Douglas


Artistic Director – Camerata Ireland
Artistic Director – Clandeboye Festival


Barry Douglas has established a major international career since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, Moscow. As Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland, the only all-Ireland orchestra and the Clandeboye Festival, he continues to celebrate his Irish heritage whilst also maintaining a busy international touring schedule.  In January 2021 Barry Douglas was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to music and community relations in the 2021 New Year Honours List.

In recent seasons Barry performed with a list of orchestras that includes the London Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Russian National, Vancouver and Colorado Symphonies, and the Halle Orchestra.  In 16/17 he marked the 30th anniversary of his Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition win with full Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto cycles with the RTE Orchestra in Dublin and the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast.   Also noted for his promotion of contemporary repertoire, he performed the premiere of Kevin Volans’ fourth piano concerto with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the European premiere of the Penderecki Piano Concerto.

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The soloist for this concert was Irish pianist Barry Douglas, whose relaxed approach to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 made light of its fiendish rhythmic demands. Its central slow movement is some of the saddest music the composer wrote, but the opening is playful and jazzy, and that bluesy feel returns in the dialogue the piano has with the cello section later. Douglas and Uryupin were both alive to the contrasts in the work in what was a vibrant partnership.

Keith Bruce

The Herald

“Next up was pianist Barry Douglas, who movingly interpreted Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 1 in the concert’s centrepiece performance. Written when the composer was, astonishingly, just 17 and 18 (although substantially revised in his 40s), Douglas deftly captured the quick switches in tone, from a moving delicacy through the gamut of emotions to furious, tumbling cascades of notes.”

Jude Clarke

Cambridge Independent

More Reviews

In between came a very grown-up Shostakovich Second Piano Concerto from Irish pianist Barry Douglas. It might have been written for his pianist son’s graduation concert, but for Douglas and Uryupin, the Concerto’s youthful playfulness hid something far darker. From the snappy, spiky, heavily accented opening, there was a wonderfully menacing, manic edge to their account – put aside somewhat in their caressing slow movement, but returning in the biting, chilly clarity of the finale. …. it was a brilliant, perceptive reading. – The Scotsman

“Douglas played purely Rachmaninoff ….The audience went crazy when it was over.” – Theater Jones

“… an enthralling mix of chiselled brilliance and melting lyricism.” – Belfast Telegraph

“Then came Barry Douglas, winner of the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. What made me gasp with admiration was how such a wonderful virtuoso can still produce such a fresh renewal of the most famous (and sometimes hackneyed-sounding) Piano Concerto ever composed. Douglas can barnstorm when needed, which is frequent in this work (and caused the composer’s friend, Nikolai Rubinstein to produce hurtful, negative comments as to its general “worthlessness”) but he can almost seemingly recreate the calmer passages in a thoughtful and, yes, almost profound way.

“What brought tears to my eyes was the collaboration he had with Søndergård, nowhere better illustrated than near the end where the first violins steal in (here ever so quietly) with to join the soloist before the final flourish. This was a magnificent rendition by a master of the keyboard not concerned with surface glitter but with the inner truth of Tchaikovsky’s youthful romanticism. It is good to know the critical Rubinstein soon changed his opinion and became one of the work’s most loyal champions as, indeed, Barry Douglas is today.”

 Classical Source, Edward Clark, 29 November 2016

“Barry Douglas’ first volume devoted to the piano music of Schubert, recorded in the beautiful acoustics of the Curtis Auditorium at Cork School of Music, leaves me speechless. This timbral science is from another time. The Steinway is no longer a piano but a singer; the sound is modelled by words, an unsupported eloquence distilled from the long melodic Molto moderato ribbons of the ultimate Sonata, attempting silences, seeking the quiet nuance to create expectation. Mysteries, lyricism, and this golden, autumnal colour lead to dreams … his whole skill shines, subtly, elegantly, emotionally. “

Artalinna, Jean-Charles Hoffele 

“In this interpretation [Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 3], pianist Barry Douglas showed his skills as a virtuoso performer with extreme musicality… His feverish and explosive performance became the justification for all that came before and after … the most sublime and accomplished interpretation of all time.”

Bachtrack, Pablo Sánchez Quinteiro 

“Douglas played purely Rachmaninoff ….The audience went crazy when it was over.”

Theater Jones, Gregory Sullivan Isaacs 

“… an enthralling mix of chiselled brilliance and melting lyricism.”

Belfast Telegraph, Terry Blain 

“Douglas’s ability to put his own artistry totally at the service of the composer was perfectly illustrated…”

Belfast Telegraph, Terry Blain 

“Douglas’s interpretation of the piece was totally commanding, mingling moments of dreamy contemplation with the surges of muscular self-assertion… Douglas caught their commingling of beauty and sorrow with the sure touch of a Brahmsian master. “

Belfast Telegraph, Terry Blain 

“Amid the compulsive hyping that affects classical music, Barry Douglas remains defiantly and admirably grounded… Douglas’s powerful playing always compels and rewards attention”

The Guardian, Martin Kettle 

“…Douglas’s dynamism and steely finger-energy propelling the music onward to a thrilling, triumphant conclusion.”

Culture, Terry Blain 

“Douglas… appeared completely relaxed at the keyboard and was well on top of the pyrotechnics – rapid octaves and glittering passagework were dispatched with ease. I was struck by the lightness of Douglas’s; playing which was crystalline and delicate but without being precious. He characterised Strauss’s gambolling capers and high jinks brilliantly – the playing was at turns roughish, witty, coy and coquettish while the difficult runs seemed to scamper along.”

Seen and Heard, Robert Beattie 

“Douglas superbly draws out the contrasts within each piece, bringing out their individual character… his tone is a deep velvet cushion, the legatos full of affection and the rhythms galvanised with great energy.”

BBC Music Magazine, Jessica Duchen 

“Douglas delivered a storming performance of Brahms’s F minor Sonata Op 5, the highlight of the evening. This bold early masterpiece plays to Douglas’s pianistic strengths: his big keyboard sound, the weight of his tone and his general press-on approach. The first movement was tremendously effective and the Scherzo rippled with authentic Brahmsian muscularity, embodying Claudio Arrau’s advice that Brahms must be played from the shoulders, not the fingers. But the contrasts were sharply drawn, and Douglas’s scrupulous use of the pedal never allowed the sonata’s dreamier pages to disappear into sonic mists.”

The Guardian, Martin Kettle 

“…Douglas’s dynamism and steely finger-energy propelling the music onward to a thrilling, triumphant conclusion.”

Culture, Terry Blain 

“[Penderecki’s Piano Concerto is] a feast of contrasting moods, and huge orchestral moments underpinned by a persistent rhythmic invention that sustains dramatic interest over its 37-minute length. It’s the kind of work that would make a huge impact in a live concert performance. Pianist Barry Douglas gives an electrifying performance and the reliable Antoni Wit draws an energetic performance from the Warsaw Philharmonic.”

Audiophile Audition, Robert Moon