Pianist Read Gainsford was recently described in the press as the possessor of “finger-numbing virtuosity and delicately chiseled precision” yet he is driven to pursue connections beyond the merely pianistic. Known for his insightful introductions from the stage, reaching beyond the footlights to be what a magazine profile described as “Pianist of the People” he pursues connections wherever he can find them. From collaborating with noted oceanographers in presenting “Voice of the Whale” by George Crumb, to consulting with art historians and living artists to create a series of images to accompany his performances of Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus; from historical reenactments of the famous piano duel between Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg of 1837, to playing Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for live performance by a noted dance troupe, he is committed to reaching audiences in ways beyond the traditional.
Gainsford has also followed the standard route for a concert pianist. Born in New Zealand, he studied at the University of Auckland before moving to London where he worked at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a pupil of the renowned pedagogue Joan Havill. He moved to the USA to enter the doctoral program at Indiana University. He has performed widely in the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, making successful solo debuts in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as playing in the Kennedy Center, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and others. Gainsford returns regularly to his home country, New Zealand to see family, perform, and teach.
Keen to work with other musicians, his latest collaborative project involves forming Trio Solis, a group dedicated to connecting with people beyond those who traditionally form audiences for classical music, and who made their Carnegie Hall debut in May 2009. As well as traditional concerts and residencies, they enjoy "Building Bridges" - collaborating with talented student musicians to share their experience of making music with younger players. He has been associated for many years with the unique chamber music center Garth Newel, and has played with many leading musicians including the Audubon and Serafin Quartets, Richard Stoltzman, Jacques Zoon, Luis Rossi, Yuri Mazurkevich, Michelle LaCourse, Denis Brott, Carmen Balthrop and Jerrold Pope. In 2004 Gainsford was involved in founding the highly successful Light in Winter festival, whose purpose is to celebrate the intersection between art, nature and science.
Dedicated to the works of living composers, Gainsford was a member of Ensemble X, a contemporary music group in Ithaca, NY. He recently gave the world premiere of the 3rd Piano Concerto by Ladislav Kubik, which he also recorded with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Brno under the baton of Alex Jimenez, and recorded Ellen Taafe Zwilich's Images for two pianos and orchestra for Naxos. He will give the world premiere performance and recording of Marc Satterwhite's Five Rivers of Hades in February 2011. He has worked with many other composers including Steven Stucky, Chen Yi, John Psathas, Christopher Theofanidis, James Matheson, Steven Burke, Robert Paterson, Mark Wingate, Karim Al-Zand, Diego Vega.
Highly in demand as a masterclass clinician and teacher, Dr. Gainsford was appointed Associate Professor of Piano at Florida State University in August 2005. Before that he taught at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, where he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award in 2004. His students have achieved success in many regional and national competitions. Long fascinated by the use of the body in making music, he has studied the Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method and yoga, as well as anatomy and physiology. His presentations have included As We Are Designed: use of the body in playing the piano and Music and Faith, as well as many lecture recitals on music ranging across the scope of piano repertoire.