Le Foyer des Artistes

A magnet for excellence in music and community engagement

Le Foyer des Artistes is an ensemble of musicians, from across the world, united to share extraordinary experiences with our patrons and community

7 December 2022

St Columb’s Hall, Derry

A Celebration of Saint Columba

4 February 2023

St Columb’s Hall, Derry, Northern Ireland

Concerto Award Finalists’ Recital

16 March 2023

St Columb’s Hall, Derry, Northern Ireland

Young Singers Collective Concert Finale

13 June 2023

St Columb’s Hall, Derry, Northern Ireland

The Midsummer Concert

Open House

Le Foyer des Artistes is passionate about community engagement. So much so, we want to make sure that wherever we perform, our doors are always open to you.
Come to our concerts or experience the creative process at one of our open rehearsals. You can meet the artists, participate in workshops, or even collaborate 
with us.

Open Workshops


Caroline Dowdle

Don’t miss the chance to Caroline Dowdle,  from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, as she shares her vast experience and technical insight with the emerging young stars of tomorrow.


Caroline Dowdle

Don’t miss the chance to Caroline Dowdle,  from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, as she shares her vast experience and technical insight with the emerging young stars of tomorrow.

St Columb’s Hall Concerto Award

The St Columb’s Hall Concerto Award was created by Le Foyer des Artistes in partnership with the St Columb’s Hall Trust to establish one of the most significant music bursaries and concerto performance opportunities  in Ireland, in celebration of the feast day of St Columba.

Young Singers Collective

The Young Singers Collective is a special programme for exceptionally gifted young singers, of any nationality, about to embark on an international singing career. 

Members of the Young Singers Collective have the opportunity to work with a world-class artistic team and perform in the Concert Finale.

Le Foyer des Artistes

About Ley Foyer desArtistes

Darren Hargan

Founder | Director

Darren Hargan is the Founder and Artistic Director of Le Foyer des Artistes. He is a conductor and pianist, and one of the most sought-after coaches for singers in Europe. 


Board of Directors

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(L-R) Chairman – John Harkin, Brenda Morgan MBE, Steven Scullion, Tiffany Fragman,

Darren Hargan, Selina Horshi, Brian Doherty and Helen Quigley (not pictured)

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Le Foyer Open House person on roof
Artistic Director
Darren Hargan

Darren Hargan is the Founder and Artistic Director of Le Foyer des Artistes. He is a conductor and one of the most sought-after coaches and accompanists for singers in Europe. From Derry City in Ireland, he is also a Swiss citizen.

He studied on the prestigious joint course at the Royal Northern College of Music with the University of Manchester, spending his final year at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He was subsequently awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

He began his career at the Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland under Alexander Pereira where he was engaged for 7 years as pianist and assistant conductor, working with the most famous singers and conductors in the world. During this time he was also principal coach of the Internationales Opernstudio, working with international casts of young singers.

Darren has conducted the Philharmonia Opernhaus Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Voralberg Sinfonieorchester in Bregenz, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, and the Karlsbader Sinfonieorchester in the Czech Republic. He has also worked as assistant to Markus Poschner at the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera in Lugano, Switzerland.

Passionate about contemporary music, he has conducted several world premières. He has also conducted many works by Schoenberg and Pierre Boulez. He has conducted Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw and a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Switzerland and England for the Britten Centenary. Darren has also worked regularly with period instruments, conducting productions of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Handel’s Rinaldo as well as Gluck’s Armide and Orfeo with French classical instruments.

He has worked as a guest at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, Wexford Opera Festival, Festival di Morcote, Selzach Summer Opera Festival, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Locarno Film Festival, Theater Luzern, American Music Institute in Graz, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, Theater 11 Zürich, Opera Northern Ireland and Theater an der Wien.

In 2019, he was invited to the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Ireland where he conducted Don Pasquale to critical acclaim and returned later in 2021 to conduct Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. 

His critical performing edition of Maudlin of Paplewick by Ina Boyle will be published later this year by Stainer&Bell and he will conduct the world première in 2023. It will be the first in a series of world première publications and performances of works by Irish composers with Le Foyer des Artistes. 

Darren studied piano with Irwin Gage and conducting with renowned contemporary music specialist Arturo Tamayo and Marc Kissoczy, Professor of conducting at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.

Jury Chair
Michael McHale

Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. 

He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. 

Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano, and a first orchestral album Irish Piano Concertos featuring works by John Field and Philip Hammond with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Courtney Lewis. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and seven duo recital albums on Chandos with Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio Portraits on Cedille featuring special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali was released in 2017 and immediately entered the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Upcoming releases include a recording of Strauss’s ‘Burleske’ with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos, and a recording of two new works by Cliff Eidelman with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and his teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas. In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed as a part-time professor of piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.

Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Dame Felicity Lott and Camerata Pacifica. www.michaelmchale.com

“…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…” Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post

“…performed with zest and sensitivity by pianist Michael McHale with the RTÉ National Symphony under Courtney Lewis… McHale makes a potent case for all of it” Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“…McHale was a wonderfully incisive soloist… this was exactly the sort of headlong, exciting adventure that Prokofiev intended it to be…” Michael Dervan, Irish Times