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(Image courtesy: Yo-Yo Ma)

Pianist Kathryn Stott Announces Retirement

The British pianist, who been a longtime duet partner of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will retire from performance at the end of 2024


Kathryn Stott began her studies at age eight at the Yehudi Menuhin School with Nadia Boulanger and Vlado Perlmuter, before attending London’s Royal College of Music and winning the Leeds International Piano Competition, which launched her international career. 

“When, quite by chance, I met Yo-Yo Ma in 1978, it turned out to be one of the most fortuitous moments of my life,” Stott writes in her biography. “Since 1985, we have enjoyed a collaboration which has taken us to so many fascinating parts of the world and led to musical adventures with musicians who shared so much from their own traditions. I have always considered us to be intrepid musical explorers on our own individual paths but with an incredible bond that unites us on the creative highway.”

After 35 years since the duo first performed at the Celebrity Series of Boston, a recent concert marked Stott and Ma’s final local concert together.

As Stott plans to retire from public performance in December 2024, Ma thanked Stott “for her friendship, for her creative spirit,” and acknowledged her curation of the concert program, which featured themes about the cycle of life and generational connection, reported the Boston Globe.

“My love of curating and directing began in 1995 and since then I have brought to life many of my ideas in events lasting anything from long weekends to two weeks,” Stott continues. “I continue to push my capacity for exploring music I know nothing about and love bringing together unusual combinations whenever possible.”

Stott’s final concert program featured music marking her and Ma’s interlinked music education — Stott had studied with Boulanger (who studied with Gabriel Fauré), and Ma learned with Boulanger’s student, Luise Vosgerschian, at Harvard University. 

The program comprised Fauré’s Berceuse and Papillon, Dvořák’s Songs My Mother Taught Me, Boulanger’s Cantique, Sérgio Assad’s Menino, Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata in D minor, Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (composed the same year Ma and Stott met),  and Franck’s Sonata in A Major for violin and piano, in its popular cello/piano arrangement by Jules Delsart.

Most recently, Stott was artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and served as curator of the 2023 Sheffield Chamber Music Festival. Alongside teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music, she enjoys a close collaboration with composer Graham Fitkin, who has written many works for her.

“I have enjoyed the most wonderful and fulfilling career as a concert pianist, but from the end of December 2024, I will no longer be giving public performances in a professional capacity,” Stott wrote in September 2023 on her website. “Music will always be a huge part of my life and I intend to continue my work with young musicians — they are our future. I look forward to this final chapter on the concert platform and hope you’ll join me along the way.”

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may 2024

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