Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown
The piano duo of Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown was formed in 2011 and quickly established itself as an ensemble of rare distinction, vitality and originality.
Following their critically acclaimed debut in the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe's Summer Festival in July 2011, they have given many concerts in venues such as Fairfield Halls, Blackheath Hall, Markson's Bösendorfer series, Warwick University and Brighton Fringe Festival. They perform annually in France in the festival 'Rencontres Musicales en Eygalières'.
2014 proved to be an exciting year for the duo as they made their highly successful Southbank debut at the Purcell Room in April, as well as giving concerts at St John's Smith Square, the Royal Academy of Music ('Music Past and Present' series), the Lower Machen Festival and at venues in Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford. Their first CD, of music by Julian's father Maurice Jacobson, was also released on the Naxos label by the British Music Society, and more recordings are planned.
Their always expanding repertoire is firmly centred on the classics of the duo repertoire, and they have been particularly acclaimed for their performances of Schubert, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin. However they also have a strong commitment to searching out neglected masterpieces, and - as composers as well as pianists - they maintain a strong and active involvement in contemporary music. Mariko's piece, "Travels Through a Mist of Chinese Mountains" has been performed to great acclaim in France and England, and Julian's "Palm Court Waltz" in memory of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett received its premiere in May 2013 in the Markson's Bösendorfer series. They gave the world première of the revised version of "After Braque" by Gary Carpenter in their Southbank debut in April. They have revived Debussy's neglected ballet masterpiece "Khamma", performing it as a collaboration with dance. 2014 also saw the première at St John's Smith Square of Julian's virtuoso transcription of Gershwin's Second Rhapsody, which received excellent reviews.
Mariko and Julian are excited to be making a return visit to the Southbank Purcell Room on July 7th 2015, following on immediately from their course for piano duos at Jackdaws Music Education Trust.
Julian Jacobson studied piano and composition from the age of seven with Lamar Crowson and Arthur Benjamin, subsequently studying at the Royal College of Music, Queen's College Oxford and privately with Louis Kentner. He enjoys an international career as soloist, chamber musician with many prominent artists, and teacher, appearing in over 40 countries and making annual visits in recent years to Australia and the Far East. He has been soloist with several of the principal British orchestras under conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Jane Glover and Tamás Vásáry, as well as appearing in most of the leading UK festivals. He has been particularly acclaimed for his performances of the Beethoven Sonatas, of which he has given eight complete cycles, most recently at The Forge, Camden Town (2011-12). In 2003 he performed the entire cycle in a single day in aid of the charity WaterAid, an event which attracted worldwide media coverage and which he repeated in October 2013 in St Martin-in-the-Fields. He has recorded for Meridian, Hyperion, Chandos, Decca Argo, Continuum and other labels. Julian Jacobson is a Professor at the Royal College of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire, and also Guest Professor at Xiamen University, China.
Anglo-Japanese Mariko Brown began her piano studies with Martyn Dyke, with whom she performed regularly including at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, as well as for many outreach community projects. She made her first concerto appearance age nine under Dr.Ruth Gipps, subsequently going on to study at the Guildhall School Junior Department with Professor Joan Havill where she won the prestigious Lutine Prize. This led to concerto appearances at the Barbican Hall and St. Giles Cripplegate as part of the City of London Festival. During this time she also took up composition with Gary Carpenter, receiving a prize for her Oboe Sonata. She was awarded the Principal's Prize on graduation from the Junior department and went on to continue her studies at the Senior Department, with both teachers and also Simon Bainbridge, graduating in 2000. Her Piano Sonata, commissioned and performed by Helen Reid, in 2004, was premiered at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. She has also been Musical Director for productions at the Arcola Theatre, London and Eye Theatre in Suffolk.
A dedicated teacher, Mariko taught for many years at Junior Guildhall and currently teaches at the Yehudi Menuhin School.
All photos by Roger Harris
No cuts or alterations of any kind should be made to this biography without the consent of Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown.