Nicholas Unwin was born in Cambridge in 1962. He studied the piano with John Barstow at the Royal College of Music in London and later with Philip Fowke. Whilst at the RCM, he won the prestigious Chappell Gold Medal and Cyril Smith Prize, and on leaving received an award from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and a silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Early in 1986 he launched his professional career to much critical acclaim with two Purcell Room recitals and a performance of Bartok’s Second Piano Concerto which was later broadcast on BBC Radio Three.
During the next few years he won numerous other awards and gave recitals in such places as the Wigmore Hall, Birmingham University and Leeds Town Hall, also recording his first recital for BBC Radio. In 1989 he became artist in residence at the King’s Lynn Festival, playing concertos by De Falla and Ravel with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and in subsequent years performing Barber’s Concerto with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Litton. His recital of Spanish and Latin-American music won a standing ovation during the 1991 Festival.
His many concerto appearances have included Tchaikovsky’s First with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Adrian Leaper, Rachmaninov’s Second at both the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall, and Shostakovich’s Second. His recital appearances have taken him all over the UK.
Nicholas Unwin’;s connections with Sir Michael Tippett are strong. He took part in a BBC TV documentary about the composer, in 1991, accompanied the composer to Madrid where he gave a highly acclaimed recital, and in 1994 too part in a “live” Radio France broadcast with Sir Michael, performing the Second and Fourth Sonatas. Later that year he toured Tippett’s Piano Concerto with the Northern Junior Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tippett’s 90th birthday celebrations in 1995 led to many performances of his works including the Barbican “Vision of Paradise” Festival and the Tippett Conference in Newcastle.