ABOUT US

THOMAS NICKELL
composer/pianist

“A performance of both exquisite precision and mature romanticism. Nickell’s mastery of the keyboard—however effortless and limpid in appearance—is never in doubt.”

– Stephen R. Ward

 
JON  NAKAMATSU
 

A promising new talent, 20-year-old American pianist Thomas Nickell has already garnered recognition for energetic, refined, and focused performances in music centers throughout Europe and the United States. In a few short years, Mr. Nickell has given public performances of important works by Bach, Beethoven, Berg, Gershwin, Khachaturian, Liszt, David Matthews, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, as well as his own compositions.

The 2018-19 season will bring new challenges for the young pianist. During the Fall of 2018, Mr. Nickell will perform a solo piano recital and chamber music concert with percussionist Fiona Stocks-Lyons at New York’s acclaimed downtown venue, SubCulture. Mr. Nickell will continue his relationship with conductor Mina Zikri, and the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, including engagements in Chicago as well as a return performance at Zankel Hall with Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra on June 2, 2019.

In June 2018, Mr. Nickell made his Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall debut alongside the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago and conductor Mina Zikri, presented in cooperation with the Alexander & Buono Foundation, performing Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, Liszt’s Totentanz, and giving the world premiere of his own composition, Innisfree. Of the performance, Roriane Schrade of New York Concert Review wrote:

A highlight of his Beethoven, and perhaps the entire concert, was the hallowed Adagio movement. Mr. Nickell is unafraid of extremes of softness and slowness, and he savors the heart-stopping lulls more than many players. Thus, where Beethoven marked con gran espressione, Mr. Nickell maximized the moment, creating such a spell of quietude that one found oneself glowering at a neighboring audience member for breathing too loudly…

Mr. Nickell’s own composition, Innisfree…revealed the influence of Cowell and possibly Crumb in its extended techniques, all while expressing a mood of meditation and mystery that seems to reflect the beginnings of his own individual style. One eagerly awaits hearing his future compositions. (June 8, 2018)

Mr. Nickell also appeared with the Oistrakh Symphony in Boston and Chicago during the 2017-18 season.

During the summer of 2017, Mr. Nickell embarked on a tour of the United Kingdom with the Orchestra of the Swan and Artistic Director David Curtis, continuing his collaboration with the highly regarded Stratford-upon-Avon Orchestra, which began in 2015. Tour performances took place in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Litchfield, and London featuring selections from Gershwin, Copland, and Dvorak.

In February 2015, Mr. Nickell made his official debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall as soloist with the Orchestra of the Swan. The program featured the United States premiere of England’s prominent composer David Matthews’ Piano Concerto, Op. 111. Mr. Nickell gave the London premiere of the Matthews’ work with the same forces in July 2016. Michael Miller of New York Arts praised the performance:

At 18, Thomas Nickell, even in a world populated by numerous prodigies who began to play in public at very young ages, still deserves to be considered a young, emerging artist, and this concert showed him to be a notably mature and tasteful one. […] Mr. Nickell played [Mozart’s Piano Concerto in No. 12] with the finely articulated passagework and crystalline tone that has become a sort of lingua franca in Mozart playing on modern instruments. …Nickell was able to use it to give us a winning and persuasive performance.

Having won us over with this Mozart, Nickell proceeded to amaze us with Olivier Messiaen’s exquisite early preludes for piano, still evocative of works Debussy was writing fifteen years earlier, but imbued with a fiery mysticism that is Messiaen’s own. Nickell’s beautiful tone in the higher registers served the composer’s moods and atmosphere well, and he avoided over-pedaling. He most definitely had his own concept of these pieces, and his freedom from the more obvious clichés was impressive. (March 26, 2017)

David La Marche of New York Concert Review was also highly enamored of the performance: “Musicians such as Thomas Nickell and the Orchestra of the Swan, who place integrity and enjoyment above all else, are a rarity and a pleasure to encounter. I hope to hear them again soon” (March 4, 2017).

2016-17 season engagements for Mr. Nickell included recitals in Italy and an appearance as a special guest artist at the tenth Annual ABC Gala at Carnegie Hall. During the summer of 2016, Mr. Nickell appeared in recital in London and made his debut as soloist with the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of David Curtis. He participated in recital at the 53rd Festivale Pianistico di Brescia e Bergamo in Mozzo, Italy, and played additional recitals in Bergamo, Milan, and Busseto, Italy during the spring of 2016. Previously, he was heard as soloist with the Orchestra Fiati di Ancona in Osimo and Ancona, Italy, and made his recital debut in León and Madrid, Spain; Venice and Bologna, Italy; and Somianka and Warsaw, Poland. In 2014, Nickell travelled to Japan to perform recitals in Fujisawa and Tokyo.

Mr. Nickell has appeared as soloist with Chicago’s Oistrakh Symphony, led by Mina Zikri, and as soloist with Poland’s Sinfonia Viva under Tomasz Radziwonowicz.

Mr. Nickell is currently enrolled at the New School, Mannes College of Music, studying piano with J Y Song, who holds a B.A. (Music) and B.S. (Microbiology & Immunology) from Stanford University, graduating with distinction and honors, a D.M.A. from The Juilliard School studying with Jerome Lowenthal, and an M.B.A. from NYU Stern School of Business. He studies composition with David T. Little, a graduate of Susquehanna University, the University of Michigan, and Princeton University (PhD), and who also serves as Distinguished Guest Composer and Senior Lecturer in New Music at Shenandoah Conservatory. Mr. Nickell, who makes his home in New York City, likes to paint in his spare time and enjoys photography, the occasional foray into writing, and reading non-fiction, especially about composers.