Richard Narroway, Cello

Praised by Gramophone Magazine for his “captivating sensitivity” and “exhilarating authority,” Australian cellist Richard Narroway enjoys an international career as a sought-after performer, recording artist, and teacher. He has given performances across Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia, in prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Koerner Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. As a result of his stylistic versatility, innovative programming, and wide-ranging musical pursuits, Richard has earned an international reputation as one of his generation’s most notable artists.

In 2017, Richard made his recording debut with Bach’s Six Cello Suites, released to international acclaim. Gramophone described the recording as “riveting…an adventure in expressive possibility.” Since its release the album has been streamed over a million times, and continues to gain impressive traction around the world. Other recent highlights include a recital of the complete Piatti Caprices at the Sala Piatti, a historic venue in the composer’s hometown of Bergamo, Italy, which received stellar reviews from the local press; as well as a performance of Tan Dun’s Cello Concerto at the Aspen Music Festival, which was selected as one of the top 12 performances of the season by The Aspen Times.

Richard’s numerous competition titles include top prizes at the 2010 Stulberg International String Competition, Third Beijing International Cello Competition, and the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition. Most recently he was named winner of The Music Trust’s 2020 Freedman Classical Fellowship, awarded to an exceptional instrumentalist annually. Deeply committed to community engagement and innovation, he takes a particular interest in devising projects that bring classical music to a wider audience. In 2019 he completed a video series involving tutorials of the twelve Piatti Caprices, uploaded on Youtube. In addition, from 2016-18 he served as co-founder and artistic director of Chamber Music Michigan, an organization committed to bringing chamber music to communities across the state. He also enjoys cross-disciplinary collaborations, such as his work in 2015 with the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Dance for PD (a project offering dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease) to produce a recording of the Bourrées from Bach’s Cello Suite no. 3 as part of a global repertory project to be used by the 100 Dance for PD classes around the world. In the same year, Richard embarked on a multi-state tour around Australia performing and presenting the complete Bach Suites as well as a selection of contemporary Australian compositions in an effort to share the music through concerts, educational workshops and various events. Aside from the artistic and educational components of this project, Richard was also interested in bringing attention to Australia’s natural landscapes and cultural history. He highlighted this perspective by recording distinctly Australian works in unique settings around the country.

Richard earned degrees from the Juilliard School and Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, before completing a Doctorate at the University of Michigan, where he also served as teaching assistant. In 2018 he was named a Rebanks fellow at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he served as teaching assistant to professor Hans Jensen. Currently, Richard is Lecturer in Cello at the prestigious Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.

Media Quotes

“These suites are basic love bugs for me and for most cellists. Clearly they affect young Australian Richard Narroway in a similar way. He plays them in a warm fashion that recalls to me the close-up involvement that Pablo Casals brought to them in his recording back in the 1930s. Narroway is also aware of early music style and uses little vibrato, making his handling of chordal passages clean and clear; yet his sensitive use of rubato gives the music a very emotionally satisfying feeling” – David W Moore American Record Guide, January 2018

“He draws out the exquisite melancholy of the minor suites (No 2 and No 5) without deteriorating into mawkishness, and dives into the fiendishly tricky Suite No 6 in D with absolute glee.” – Paul Ballam-Cross Limelight Magazine, January 2018

“The Australian cellist Richard Narroway avoids extremes on his new disc of the six suites and in doing so contributes an individual and riveting account to the long list of distinguished takes on some of Bach’s most personal ideas. Narroway plays the suites on a modern cello, even as he reveals a keen grasp of historical performance practices. He uses vibrato only to colour certain notes, allowing much of the music to emerge with understated grandeur. Every movement comes across as an adventure in expressive possibility. Narroway builds and connects phrases in ways that point out the endless implications of the music, whether Bach’s dances move on the tips of their feet or probe philosophical corners. The cello is a messenger of exhilarating and pensive authority in Narroway’s hands. Rhythms crackle with energy and clarity when the music suggests these qualities. In the longest phrases, Narroway maintains a fine balance between tension and release, which has the effect of keeping the listener eager to hear what will happen next. The cellist rises to greatest heights in the sarabandes, especially in the Third Suite, where the music—at once grave and noble—requires a kind of mature patience that challenges every interpreter, regardless of age or approach. Narroway, only in his mid-twenties, honours Bach with artistry of captivating sensitivity.” – Donald Rosenberg Gramophone, November 2017

“Narroway has a lovely rich sound that never overwhelms, with beautiful phrasing and a fine rhythmic sense that is given room to breathe and expand. It’s all bursting with life and sounds quite effortless” – Terry Robbins The WholeNote, October 2017

“Narroway’s tempos are carefully chosen, his reduced use of vibrato is admirable, his handling of ornamentation is intelligent and aware, and his overall interpretation of the suites’ movement sequences is carefully managed and creates a satisfying arc for each of the works. …there is something refreshing in hearing a performer who uses a modern instrument but does so with so much sensitivity to the nuances of the time when this music was created. …the grandeur of this music makes it common for people to own multiple recordings, and Narroway’s is certainly intriguing enough to become a thought-provoking supplement to whatever an individual’s primary preference may be.”- Mark Estren Infodad.com, September 2017

“Look up Johann Sebastian Bach Cello Suites on line and you shall find dozens of recordings, most of them very good. Here we have not merely another fine one, but a very fine one by an immensely gifted young musician soon fit to keep company with some of the greats that preceded him.” – Rafael de Acha Rafael’s Music Notes, September 2017

Richard is joining Selby and Friends for:

A Rose Between Two Thorns , 7th - 14th November, 2021