Arun Rao

Born in 1969, French-Indian musician Arun Rao is one of Ireland’s leading cellists, a versatile performer at ease in every genre. He founded DUO CHAGALL (formerly Rao-Williams Duo) with violinist Gillian Williams in 1990. The duo has performed extensively throughout Ireland and in the south of France and runs the popular classical music series ‘Autumn Sounds’ at the prestigious Ballroom in Farmleigh since 2010, in partnership with Fingal County Council. They released a CD of works by Ravel, Milhaud and Handel in 2009.

A noted performer of the repertoire for unaccompanied cello, Rao’s performances of the complete Suites by J.S. Bach earned him considerable acclaim in the late 1990s. A champion of neglected masterpieces, he performed complete sets of works by Reger, Piatti, Gabrielli, as well as Bach’s Suites, on three consecutive days in three different Dublin churches in April 2004. His solo performances with orchestras include live broadcasts (RTE Lunchtimes series) of works by Darius Milhaud, Ottorino Respighi and Tchaikovsky. He has performed three major works for Violin, Cello & Orchestra: Brahms’s well-known Double Concerto, Delius’s lesser-known work for same and the Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart for violin, viola & orchestra playing the viola part unchanged. He also performed the viola part from Mozart’s two String Duets K. 423 & 424, and that of the neglected Märchenerzählungen by Robert Schumann during an exhaustive survey of his entire chamber music in six recitals (2014-17) as part of DUO CHAGALL’s  ‘Autumn Sounds’ classical music series at The State Residence, Farmleigh. The 2018 edition celebrated the anniversary of Debussy’s death with a unique two-part chamber music tribute, fearturing all three sonatas, the Trio en sol, the String Quartet and a number of smaller works including a reduction of Pelléas et Mélisande scored for Piano, Violin, Clarinet and Double-Bass by Hubert Mouton (1909) which received its Irish Premiere. Among his many other Premieres over the course of a twenty-six-year career are works by Irish composers Rhona Clarke (In Umbra -2001, Jagged Edge -2001), Raymond Deane (The Wall of Cloud -1999, Pentacle -2001, String Quartet No.1 -2013), Gerard Barry (Triorchic Blues, cello version -2009). Recent Irish Premieres include works by Christian Sinding (Piano Trio No.1 in 2014), Ludomir Ró┼╝ycki (Rhapsody for Piano Trio in 2016), Matyas Seiber (Sonata da camera in 2017) and, in 2016, French composers Charles Koechlin (Cello Sonata), Henriette Renié (Harp Trio) and Guy Ropartz (Piano Trio), part of the series ‘French Chamber Music, 1914-18’, hosted by The Hugh Lane, Dublin, which he instigated and curated. He recently premiered two works by eminent composer/conductor Colman Pearce in Spring 2018 at that venue: Duo Concertante & Piano Trio (2017), composed expressly for Duo Chagall.

A Lecturer at DIT Conservatory since 1994, Rao’s contributions to teaching programs include the design of an original cello syllabus published as the DIT Cello Scalebook (2014); the creation of the DIT Cello Class, for students in continuous education; a number of arrangements for the DIT Sinfonietta, a Junior string ensemble which he currently directs. His article “Mirror, mirror on the wall’ on tutoring left-handed cello students was published by the British section of the European String Teachers Association (ESTA) in the magazine ARCO in 2009 and re-published in Norway. He is also a keen pianist and has accompanied students in many public events, at the Conservatory and the Peppercanister Church, Dublin, in works by Beethoven, Brahms, Franck, Schumann, Fauré, Saint-Saëns, etc. A member of the Association of FrancoIrish Studies, Rao’s interest in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French music, politics and culture led him to publish several articles on that subject; he is currently preparing a doctorate on the influence of Hellenism on French musical circles between 1850 and 1914. Arun Rao is an elected representative of the Fingal PPN (Public Participation Network) since June 2016.