Nico de Villiers is a South African pianist, coach and researcher based in London. He holds degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Michigan, as well as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Nico was the recipient of the ABRSM International Undergraduate Scholarship, a University of Michigan Teaching Assistant Scholarship, and scholarships from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama scholarship fund.
He performed as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician in prestigious venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre, the Barbican and St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Birmingham Symphony Hall; the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC; the Kammermusiksaal in Bonn, Germany; and the Mozarteum Grosser Saal in Salzburg, Austria. Festival performances include the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Chopin Birthday Festival in Warsaw, Poland, and the International Johannesburg Mozart Festival in South Africa.
Nico took up the role of Deputy Head of Vocal Studies in the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England since September 2022. He previously served as a vocal coach on the vocal faculties of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatory in London, and the University of Michigan School of Music. Additionally, he has been a vocal coach at various other institutions including the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, and Trinity Laban Conservatory in London, UK. Masterclasses and workshops include institutions such as Florida Atlantic University, Boca Reton, Florida; Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida; University of Portland, Portland, Oregon (USA); the Birmingham Conservatory and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (UK); Kungliga Musikhögskolan in Stockholm (Sweden) and various universities across his native South Africa.
He has been on the faculty of various summer programmes including the Oxenfoord Summer Programme in Scotland, the Abingdon Summer School of Solo Singers and the Aderley International Music School in England, the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, the International Music Academy in Pilsen, Czech Republic and the Peter Jablonski Piano Academy in Karlskrona, Sweden.
As researcher Nico has a particular interest in unearthing and performing neglected and undiscovered composers. In 2008, Nico performed a complete series of the piano chamber music of Hungarian pianist-conductor-composer Ernst von Dohnányi at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He subsequently made the world premiere recording of Polish pianist-composer André Tchaikowsky’s Piano Sonata, and features in the documentary Rebel of the Keys which focuses on Tchaikowsky’s life and the revival of Tchaikowsky’s opera The Merchant of Venice at the Bregenz Festival. Nico performed some of Tchaikowsky’s piano works and songs in the UK, Poland and South Africa.
In 2011, Nico founded the Richard Hageman Society (RHS) to focus scholarship and research into the work and life of the Dutch-born American Oscar-winning composer and conductor Richard Hageman. As director of the RHS Nico opened the Richard Hageman Aqueduct, unveiled a memorial plaque at Hageman’s birthplace in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, curated exhibitions of the RHS archives, and organised premieres of Hageman’s works. Nico presented various lecture recitals and presentations at conferences and symposiums in the UK, the USA, the Netherlands, Georgia and South Africa.
In 2018, Nico was awarded a PhD from the GSMD for his practice-based research entitled “The Becoming of a Song Composer: A critical re-evaluation of Richard Hageman and his songs” which discusses the cosmopolitanism present in and development of Hageman’s artistic identity through his songs. He co-authored Richard Hageman: From Holland to Hollywood (Peter Lang, 2020), the first critical biography on Richard Hageman, with co-authors Kathryn Kalinak and Asing Walthaus. Nico also published articles in Classical Singer Magazine, Pianist Magazine, and Opera Magazine. Nico is Associate Editor of VOICEPrints, the journal of the New York Singing Teachers’ Association's (www.nyst.org).
The above is for information only and should not be reproduced; please Contact Nico for a full biography and publicity material.
(Photo credit: Matthew Johnson)