City of Culture Musician in Residence Announced

Adele collaborator Neil Cowley announced in new partnership between PRS for Music Foundation, Culture Company and the Nerve Centre

Neil Cowley, the musician who played on Adele’s chart-topping album 21 and was quite literally 2011’s most listened to pianist on the planet, has been announced as the Musician in Residence for UK City of Culture in 2013.

This unique residency is a partnership between PRS for Music Foundation, UK City of Culture 2013 and the Nerve Centre, Derry-Londonderry’s music hub and where the residency will be based.

Cowley will be working and collaborating with a range of musicians, performers, organisations and communities from across the city and local area to create and perform a large scale, original piece of new music, which will become one of the key events in the UK City of Culture 2013 programme.

Through its links with local talent, organisations and communities, the Nerve Centre will pull together a network that Cowley will engage and collaborate with, to create a truly unique and inspirational programme of events.

'I am truly honoured, proud and excited to be named Musician in Residence for Derry-Londonderry in 2013,' said Cowley, 'as it enjoys its status as the inaugural UK City of Culture. My passion for this position and the forthcoming projects associated with it has been the soundtrack to my existence in the recent months leading up to this. Now finally I can begin a year of discovery, fun and fulfilment as I get to unravel the musical heart of this unique city and its people.'

Cowley was selected from a group of exceptional creative musicians who were nominated by music industry and arts sector leaders. The final selection panel felt that his talent, musicianship and personality would have a real impact on audiences in Derry-Londonderry and inspire a broad range of people to take part.

The panel also liked Cowley’s idea of involving people from all walks of life in workshops that would unite people around the idea of creating an 'eighth gate' in the City Walls through music.

Cowley studied at London’s Royal Academy where his prodigious talent saw him performing a Shostakovich piano concerto at the age of 10. Turning his back on his classical career early on, he entered the world of old school RnB, soul and funk, and by the age of 17 had begun to work with many successful bands including The Brand New Heavies and Zero 7.

In 2005, Cowley returned to his first love, the acoustic piano, and formed the Neil Cowley Trio, which to date have released four critically acclaimed albums. His fondness for grand, commanding sounds and his burgeoning talent as a composer and arranger for trio and strings was showcased in 2012's album The Face of Mount Molehill.

He has an instinctive flair and ingenuity as an entertainer, and is renowned for his captivating live performances. In 2011, he appeared in the Sky Arts programme First Love, working with comedienne Sue Perkins to conquer her fears and perform a Beethoven Sonata at the Cheltenham Festival.

Over the past years, Cowley has been sought for soul and pop acts that require a jazz technique and rhythmic suppleness to their recordings. His work with Adele on 19 and her global chart topper 21 made him quite literally 2011’s most listened to pianist on the planet.

Vanessa Reed, Executive Director of PRS for Music Foundation, said: 'We’re delighted to be supporting this residency in the context of the UK’s first ever City of Culture in 2013. Neil has big ideas and is an extremely talented musician. I’m sure he will generate lots of excitement and curiosity around the creative process he’s about to embark on with the Nerve Centre and with other communities in Derry-Londonderry.'

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of Culture Company 2013, UK City of Culture, said: 'The appointment of a Musician in Residence is a tremendous addition to our City of Culture programme. Having Neil Cowley in place in this important post will be a substantial benefit to musicians from all over the city. I am absolutely delighted to have someone of the calibre of Neil working with us throughout an exciting year ahead.'

Watch other Neil Cowley Trio live performances and music videos on YouTube.