Cathal Breslin

World-renowned pianist Cathal Breslin to join ASU School of Music piano faculty

By

Lynne MacDonald

World-renowned pianist Cathal Breslin will join the Arizona State University School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as assistant professor of piano in August 2019.

“I am excited about the collaborative atmosphere of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and I am extremely fascinated by the role that the School of Music takes within an atmosphere that is connecting, fusing and merging different fields together,” Breslin said. “The School of Music has one of the most prestigious piano studies program in the nation, and I am delighted to be a part of its future.” 

Praised worldwide by numerous critics as one of the most exciting pianists of his generation, Breslin’s music has received critical acclaim. The Cleveland Plain Dealer described his playing as having “superb intensity and passion.” The Belfast Telegraph called him “energized and energizing” and The Independent, London, called his music “noble poetry.”

“We are excited to have attracted Dr. Breslin to our faculty,” said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. “His experience as a solo and chamber artist, his interest and advocacy for new music and his passion for teaching align well with the outstanding piano program in the ASU School of Music.”

As a pianist, Breslin said he has always had a naturally analytical and problem-solving approach to his own playing so the transition to teacher was a natural process for him.

“During my developing years as a musician, I have built a large vocabulary of how to express ideas clearly, how to fix technical problems and how to elevate artistry — channeling this approach to students who have different perspectives,” Breslin said. “My father was a fantastic history teacher and I absorbed a lot about how to communicate and engage with students. My goal as a teacher is to communicate all information in a way that engages my students.”  

Breslin’s education and training has involved many different angles, cultures and schools of teaching, from London and Manchester in the United Kingdom to Spain to Michigan. His musicianship represents a wide range of approaches and influences of the Irish, British, Russian, French and American schools, he said, and his performing experiences in many amazing cities and countries with different cultures has shaped his outlook on life.

In addition to being a pianist and professor, Breslin is artistic director and festival director of the Walled City Music Festival, one of the most innovative and important arts organizations in Northern Ireland. It is dedicated to creating a brighter future for young musicians in Northern Ireland. Started 10 years ago with his wife, Sabrina Hu, the organization directs major festivals and concert events.

Breslin earned his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Michigan, his Master of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and his Bachelor of Music at the Royal College of Music in London.

“As part of the piano faculty at ASU, I want to make sure that my students are able to become an extension of my network, to be involved in my existing projects and to initiate their own innovative and creative projects,” Breslin said. “I hope to bring a large group of ASU students and faculty each summer to the WCM International Piano Festival and Competition in Northern Ireland.”

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, his international career as a concerto performer, solo recitalist and chamber musician has taken him to famous concert halls throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. He has performed with prestigious conductors and internationally renowned orchestras and quartets.

Breslin’s previous faculty positions include the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, Bucknell University, Bloomsburg University, the National University of Ireland in Maynooth and Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has taught master classes and lectured at universities and conservatories in the U.S., Canada, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Portugal, Bulgaria, Spain, the U.K. and Ireland.