Adam Summerhayes

violinist, fiddler & composer

"Adam Summerhayes - to die for" The Strad
"Heady stuff...thrilling virtuoso playing"
(Click for Gramophone review)
"Heady stuff... thrilling virtuoso playing." Gramophone
Put on this exciting music and you'll be transported... a mix of Django Reinhardt and Jascha Heifetz, gypsy music and jazz. The most obvious point of contact with the classical repertory is with The Lark, traditionally associated with Dinicu but here heard in Summerhayes's more up-to-date arrangement. It's heady stuff, with some thrilling virtuoso playing. To quote artistic director Chris Grist's accompanying note: "You'll hear funky grooves, mesmerising, deeply beautiful melodies, and sometimes tunes that are just plain fun." I guess we do, and there are effective contrasts of major and minor that typify the folk music of Eastern Europe. I especially enjoyed the instrumental colour, cumulative excitement and sheer abandon of Firefly, an original Summerhayes composition. Swifts in Flight is another winner in the same style, and between times the contrasts of Summerhayes's invention are brought home by the plaintive, hypnotic wailing melody of Caravan. I'd love to be dining in a Budapest restaurant while this music is being played... it provides exciting listening. Andrew Lamb  Chandos ® CHAN1O453 (45' • DOD)
So, welcome to my website - thanks for looking me up. Here are a few things that occasionally puzzle me....Am I a violinist or a fiddler? Or a composer? Do I prefer playing the Tchaikovsky concerto or a blues/kopanitsa fusion? Why is the universe how it is? Why did the BBC forecast predict sun, when it has now been raining for four hours? Why would that sign be indicating that I am travelling north on the M1, when I am trying to travel south?
"A sultry success....ideal for dark days" Observer
(Click for Observer review)
"A sultry success... ideal for dark days."
A chamber-music homage to tango great Astor Piazzolla is a sultry success, writes Fiona Maddocks Two northern composer-performers here pay homage to a southern genius, the Argentinian Astor Piazzolla, combining numbers by the master with their own tango-inspired creations. Violinist Adam Summerhayes, leader of the London Concertante, has always mixed chamber music with gypsy. Jazz pianist David Gordon, a mathematician by training, has worked with Nigel Kennedy and also plays baroque harpsichord. Gordon's Augmented Tango (2008) lurches boisterously in seven beats. Summerhayes's poignant El Desposeido (2001) journeys from a whisper to a roar. Their joint piece, Milonga Bourgeois, explores the art of fugue, hot Latin style. Ideal for dark days.

I have plenty of traveling time to ponder such questions. Perhaps, though, the answers are not so easy: I recently worked through a mathematical proof of chaos theory and, not long ago, heard an eminent astrophysicist explaining that the concepts of dark matter and dark energy are based on dodgy raw data.

“Hmm...”, I thought….

Perhaps no-one else really knows what is going on, either.
A few career facts (Click to view)
My grandfather studied the violin with Joachim's last pupil and with Adolf Brodsky, the violinist who premiered the Tchaikovsky concerto. I learnt first from him and then from Yfrah Neaman, one of the twentieth century's greatest pedagogues. It is nice to feel linked to the historical continuum of violin playing.

I have performed chamber music for over 20 years - since meeting my wife (and pianist) Catherine at music college. We have performed throughout Europe and have given a number of Purcell Room recitals, including first performances of works by Aaron Copland. We also premiered many contemporary works there, as part of the UK and Eire Composition Platform which we ran for four years.

In 2000 we asked cellist Joseph Spooner to form the Summerhayes Piano trio with us and have made a number of extremely favourably reviewed discs all including first recordings (Copland, Alan Bush and 19th & early 20th century English composers.) We were very warmly received by music clubs and festivals around the country, though have done a bit less over the last five years, as Catherine felt that our daughter deserved her presence!

Also in 2000, I became director of London Concertante which developed into a very busy chamber ensemble with upwards of 100 concerts a year throughout the country - a demanding but often very rewarding schedule.

I have always given concerto performances with great enjoyment, though this has not been my main focus, and have performed in Russia, Germany, France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the USA.

New directions have included the band ZUM and a very new project exploring my growing interest in the electric violin - see later pages for more...

I have recorded over 20 CDs - duo, trio, larger chamber music, ZUM and other interesting projects - for Harmonia Mundi, Chandos, ASV, Meridian, Sargasso and others. I have recorded live for BBC Radio 3 and occasionally had the pleasure of hearing some of my own music played on that station.