The English guitarist, Stewart French, studied at Royal College of Music (ARCM, 1999), followed by undergaduate study in mathematics at University of Cambridge (MA, 2003). In 2006 he graduated in 2006 with distinction as a postgraduate from the Royal Academy of Music in London. His teachers were Michael Lewin, Aniello Desiderio, Gary Ryan, Fabio Zanon, abd David Van-Spall. He also studied with Aniello Desiderio in Napoli. His postgraduate recital, a ‘virtually flawless’ performance which ‘riveted the attention throughout’, gained the highest mark awarded to a postgraduate guitar recital in recent history and was subsequently awarded the D-Day Fund Prize and an honorary DipRAM - the highest performance award conferred by the Royal Academy of Music.
As a performer, Stewart French’s dazzling technique and inspired musicality have earned him the credentials of one of Britain’s rising classical stars. However, it’s his unique musical personality which captivates his audiences. Having developed a strong technique at an early age, Stewart turned his attention to developing his interpretive, analytical and communicative skills. While studying performance and communication in Napoli with famous Italian virtuoso Aniello Desiderio, Stewart also undertook his undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge where he developed his first sets of transcriptions of Felix Mendelssohn and L.v. Beethoven. He also worked extensively with composers John Rutter and Joseph Finlay on their new compositions for guitar, namely the Wedding Canticle, The Gift of Music and Lines in the Sand.
Stewart French has recorded with with Naxos, Universal, Collegium labels and now signed to Draft Records. During his undergraduate period, he experienced significant success. The 2003 Draft Records recording of his transcriptions of F. Mendelssohn’s Lieder Ohne Worte Op. 19 and Finlay’s Lines in the Sand exceeded all expectations, gaining extensive and universal praise from the international guitar press as well as distinguished musicians such as David Russell, David Leisner and Sir Colin Davis. Moreover, Stewart performed concertos by Rodrigo and Antonio Vivaldi with four different orchestras (including the professional Vivaldi Concertante) and was invited to give a personal performance of William Walton’s Bagatelles to Lady Susanna Walton at her home in Ischia; a performance which led to Stewart’s recent new edition of the work.
More recently, Stewart French has seen his recording portfolio increase rapidly. Continuing to work closely with John Rutter, he edited and performed the world premiere recordings of The Gift of Music and the Wedding Canticle for Universal and Collegium Records respectively. Following on from these successes, he was asked to record the world premiere recording of J. Rutter’s Shadows; a 25 minute song-cycle for Baritone and Guitar. This best-selling recording was released by Naxos in 2006. Since then, Stewart’s second solo album "Concert in Krakow" has been released featuring his new Johannes Brahms transcriptions, a ground-breaking new edition of the W. Walton Bagatelles based on the original manuscript, and his now-renowned interpretation of J.S. Bach’s celebrated Chaconne for solo violin. Somewhat of a departure from his usual fare, Stewart has recently commissioned an exciting new album of non-classical solo guitar music; a ground-breaking crossing of styles as cutting edge contemporary classical composition fuses with jazz, rock and pop idioms. This album was recorded in late 2007.
Stewart French receives the support of awards from the Arts and Research Council, the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, the Michael James Trust and the Lady Clare Fund.