Ian Watt / guitar
Born in Aberdeenshire in 1991, Ian Watt has appeared as a soloist throughout Europe, in venues such as the ‘Schubert Hall’ (Vienna Concert House), National Philharmonic (Kiev), St John’s, Smith Square (London), King’s Place (London) and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, as well as at cultural festivals such as the Mikulov International Guitar Festival (Czech Republic), Balaton International Guitar Festival (Hungary), Westfalian Guitar Spring (Germany), International Guitar Festival (London) and ‘Sound’ Festival (Aberdeen). He studied with Allan Neave, firstly at Aberdeen City Music School then at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
As well as in the United Kingdom, Ian has performed in the USA, China, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ukraine, Denmark, Holland, Estonia, Norway and Belgium and as a concerto soloist he has performed with orchestras such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia and the Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra. Despite his youth, Ian is also increasingly in demand as a teacher, regularly giving public masterclasses around Europe, most recently in Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Ian’s international awards and prizes include 1st prize (and the audience and junior jury prizes) at the Heinsberg International Guitar Competition 2011, 1st prize at the‘Westfalian Guitar Spring’ International Competition 2010, silver medal at the Parkening International Guitar Competition 2009 in Malibu, 2nd prize at the Vienna International Guitar Competition ‘Homage to Karl Scheit’ 2010, and 3rd prize at the Koblenz International Guitar Competition 2011. He is also a recipient of the Musician’s Benevolent Fund’s Ian Fleming Award.
A keen advocate of contemporary music, Ian has collaborated with composers Rory Boyle and most recently John McLeod, whose Guitar Concerto (dedicated to Ian and the composer’s first work for the instrument) he premiered in March 2010. He also premiered McLeod’s two solo guitar works, Three Impromptus and Fantasy on themes from Britten’s Gloriana, in 2012. In November 2009, Ian took part in the Peter Maxwell Davies 75th birthday celebration concerts in Glasgow, giving a performance of the rarely heard ‘Dark Angels’ song cycle for voice and guitar in the composer’s presence. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Ian regularly performs with other musicians, particularly singers. Apart from voice, he also performs in a duo with violin, giving concerts of 19th century and contemporary music for the combination.
As well as his performances on BBC Radio, Ian was featured in a BBC 2 documentary which included a performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and his performances have also been seen and heard on television and radio stations in the USA, Austria and Holland.
His debut album, Invocación – Impressions of Spain, was released by Nimbus Alliance in November 2011. Ian Watt plays D’Addario strings. His second album was released in May 2013, and Ian performed featured works in the Recital Hall of Birmingham Conservatoire on Friday 24th May at 7.30pm, and in St Peter’s Nottingham on Saturday 25th May at 11 am. Works featured are John McLeod’s Fantasy on themes from Britten’s Gloriana, Walton’s Bagatelles and pieces by Wilson and Dowland.
Ian also performed on the National Trust for Scotland cruise with his duo partner, Paul Livingston from 27th May – 7th June 2013, and appeared at Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Paul and soprano Ginny Wilson, as Trio Dalriada.
‘…in a field of ever-increasing size, this disc is outstanding.’ – Zane Turner, Music Web International, 2012
‘Ian Watt uses all the right punctuations in all the right places, making the musical construct a stellar example of his ardour, his genius and his excellence.’ – Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet.com, 2012
‘…possessed a musicality and charisma – a temperament, even – that allows one to transcend the bonds of an instrumental community’ – Soundboard (U.S.A), 2009
‘Time stopped in this interpretation and the concentration of young Ian Watt’s guitar playing acted like a zoom lens on pain and reflection.’ – The Herald (Scotland), 2009
‘…an eighteen year old phenom.’ – Soundboard (U.S.A.), 2009
‘…astoundingly atmospheric playing in Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez…’ – The Herald (Scotland), 2008
‘Flawless, passionate and driven…’ – Aberdeen Press and Journal (Scotland), 2006
Competitions and prizes
Heinsberg International Guitar Competition, 2011 (Germany)
Westfalian International Guitar Competition, 2010 (Germany)
Parkening International Guitar Competition, 2009 (USA)
Karl Scheit International Guitar Competition, 2010 (Austria)
Koblenz International Guitar Competition, 2011 (Germany)
Musician’s Benevolent Fund Ian Fleming Award, 2012
ABRSM Silver Bursary, 2008
Aberdeen Young Musician of the Year, 2006
Runner-up: BBC, Classical Star, 2007
John McLeod’s Guitar Concerto in Edinburgh, 2010
John McLeod’s Three Impromptus, Brighton, 2012
John McLeod’s Fantasy on themes from Britten’s Gloriana, Hungary, 2012
Rory Boyle’s Partita a Quattro, Glasgow, 2010
Premiered various works at Sound Festival and Plug Festival, Scotland
On Britten, Walton, McLeod, Wilson and Dowland (2013, Nimbus, NI 6226)
‘Watt’s exceptional range of timbre is especially apparent in John McLeod’s Fantasy on themes from Britten’s Gloriana, while the opening of [Britten’s] Nocturnal is sublime…a thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable disc’ – BBC Music Magazine, October 2013.
‘…Watt is on outstanding form…a superb celebratory release’ – Classical Guitar Magazine’, December 2013
‘…he [Watt] sounds completely at home whatever century or style he is playing in. He is technically assured, thoughtful, unpretentious…his phrasings, colours and characterisations are a match for anyone.’ – Music Web International, 2013
‘…played with sensitivity and understanding…hauntingly performed…a strong, and superbly played, programme.’ – Albion Magazine, 2013
Listen live: Classics Unwrapped: broadcast 14/2/16 from one hour 8 minutes