Midsummer Gala Concert

Featured Artists

Darren Hargan
Piano Soloist
Ao Deng
Soprano, YSC24
Eimear Harper

The Midsummer Gala Concert is the culmination of our Concert Series at Saint Columb’s Hall. The winner of the St Columb’s Hall Concerto Prize returns to play Mozart’s Piano Concerto K414.

The A-major Piano Concerto, K. 414, was one of three that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) wrote in late 1782 for that winter’s concert season in Vienna, after the success of his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio.


For Mozart, the key of A major was usually one of lyricism and serenity, and this Concerto is a prime example. It is an elegant, flowing, self-satisfied work with little turmoil, and nary an excursion into a minor key.


DSC06733 scaled
Midsummer Gala Concert 2023

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- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Associate Pianist
Gary Beecher

We are pleased to announce Gary Beecher as Associate Artist with Le Foyer des Artistes and as official pianist for The Concerto Competition, Finalists’ Recital. One of Ireland’s most accomplished young pianists, Gary Beecher is from Cork and leads an extremely varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist.

He has performed as concert soloist with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra. He has also appeared as soloist at the National Concert Hall and RDS in Dublin, University Concert Hall, Limerick, Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall in London.

In 2019, Gary had a string of success at international competitions, winning the Nadia and Lili Boulanger International Voice-Piano Competition in Paris and the Rudolf Jansen Pianist Prize at the 53rd International Vocal Competition Lied Duo in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. In the same year he also won 2nd Pianist Prize at the prestigious International Helmut Deutsch Lied Competition in Vienna.

Gary was also a Fellow and staff accompanist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where he completed his Master Degree, mentored by Julius Drake and Charles Owen. He is an alumnus of Cork School of Music, where he studied with Susana and Jan Čáp, Michael McHale and Gabriela Mayer. He is also a former pupil of Jacques Rouvier, Universität der Künste, Berlin, and John O’Conor, Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM).

In addition to his concert career, Gary teaches piano at the RIAM, and is coach and accompanist at both the Cork School of Music and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

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