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Alexis Ffrench

Contemporary composer and pianist Alexis Ffrench reached beyond British classical music's core audience by mixing his classical background with roots and R&B. In a conscious move to dissolve the genre's boundaries, Ffrench embraced contemporary styles, modern formats, and performance spaces not commonly associated with classical music. His 2018 single "Bluebird" illustrated his melodic, soulful style often repudiated in the classical world. Raised in Bagshot, Surrey, in a strict Catholic household, Ffrench began to learn piano at the age of four and was a church organist at seven. He later earned scholarships to study at the Purcell School for Young Musicians in 1981, the Royal Academy of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His first success was as a solo pianist in 1992 following his win at the first Portobello Concert Artists Awards. That same year, he made his concerto debut in Simon Rattle's Towards the Millennium, series where he performed "Rhapsody in Blue" at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. His recording career began in 2006 with Piano Diaries and a series of albums followed throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s. Unlike many classical composers whose music was most commonly found in physical formats, Ffrench made a concerted effort to push his music through streaming services more commonly associated with popular music. Along with his modern approach to the distribution of his work, Ffrench also sought to challenge preconceived notions of classical music's style and performance by integrating soul into his compositions and presenting his work at Latitude Festival. After signing to Sony in 2017, he put out a cover of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and the single "Bluebird." The following year, Ffrench released the album Evolution. In 2019 he became a DJ on the classical digital radio station Scala Radio. His 2020 album Dreamland further evolved his self-described "classical soul" sound, and saw his audience continue to grow; that year, he was the U.K.'s biggest-selling pianist, and sold out the Royal Albert Hall. 2022 saw the release of Ffrench's third album for Sony, Truth. Recorded at the famous Real World Studios, it featured a 70-piece orchestra on a number of tracks.
© Bekki Bemrose /TiVo
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