Robert Burgess began playing the piano at the age of four and was immediately captivated. By the time he left Kimbolton School in Cambridgeshire, he was a Grade 8 pianist with many school concerts and local performances under his belt. One highlight was a concert at Chequers for the then Prime Minister, John Major.
After studying Actuarial Maths and Statistics at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, he decided to return to music and launched himself as a professional musician. Realising that he thrived particularly in the role of the collaborative pianist, he initially formed a partnership with a professional tenor and developed a touring programme of Victorian and Edwardian ballads and songs from the music hall. This grew over five years into a larger professional ensemble, Upstairs Downstairs, a dramatic musical presentation comprising tenor, bass, soprano and mezzo soprano, of an Edwardian evening, with drawing-room ballads and popular arias ‘upstairs’ and Gilbert and Sullivan and music hall songs ‘downstairs’.
After two years studying piano accompaniment under Eugene Asti at Trinity College of Music in London, he was awarded the Trinity/Guildhall Performance Diploma in Piano Accompaniment (ATCL) with Distinction. During his time at Trinity and since, he has performed extensively in public concerts and competitions as an accompanist to both vocal and instrumental musicians. Performances have included the ‘Schumann Dichterliebe’, Cezar Franck Violin Sonata in A, Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock and the Haydn Cello Concerto in C.
He regularly accompanies pupils and participants in competitive festivals, including Bath, Leamington Spa and Cheltenham, and is a rehearsal pianist and accompanist for Robert Bateman, the well-established singing teacher and soloist in Gloucestershire. As a talented soloist, Robert has twice won the Cheltenham Festival Open Piano Solo competition. He is principal accompanist for the prestigious Dursley Male Voice Choir, recently accompanying them at a packed charity concert at Cheltenham Town Hall when the eminent Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, (of ‘Go Compare’ advertisement fame!) was guest soloist.
Outside the work of a traditional accompanist, he currently plays the organ at a local church and is always in demand as a rehearsal and performance pianist for local amateur dramatic/operatic productions. This has included providing XVIth century incidental music for a particularly memorable, award-winning production of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons in the annual Arts Festival at Painswick in Gloucestershire.