Venezuelan born pianist Elena Riu ‘brings all the virtuosity, colour, and refinement one could hope for in her interpretations.’ Her poetic and lyrical playing and unique programming flair have placed her at the forefront of a new generation of British artists.
Elena came to the UK on a Venezuelan Government scholarship and studied with Joseph Weingarten at Trinity College of Music in London (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) where she won many prizes and awards. She won a further scholarship to study with Vlado Perlmutter in Paris.
Elena’s infectious enthusiasm for ‘boundary- jumping’ (Time Out), and for bringing new music to a wider audience has brought her accolades all over the world. She has commissioned, edited, published, performed, and recorded over forty new works giving countless world premieres including Sir John Tavener’s “Ypakoe,” written especially for her.
A leading exponent of the Hispano-American repertoire she has championed the music of Antonio Soler, Tania Leon, Daniel Erkoreka, Federico Mompou, Diana Arismendi, Gabriela Ortiz, and Javier Alvarez amongst many others. Her CD of Sonatas by Soler was released to great acclaim by the Spanish label Ensayo.
Elena has toured extensively and has performed in all major concert halls and festivals in the UK and abroad including the Montpellier Radio France Festival, Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, City of London Festival, Dartington International Summer School, BBC Concert Orchestra, Walt Disney Hall and festivals in Kenya, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Italy, the Check Republic, Scandinavia, France, and Ireland.
An eclectic artist, she has pioneered collaborative work with dancers and choreographers Javier de Frutos & La Ribot, artist Helen Cowcher, video artist Thomas Gray and textile designer Kate Blee amongst many.
She was the brain behind multicultural Spanish Plus Series at the SBC and re- launched their Children's and Families Series with visionary multimedia projects. The Adventures of Tom Thumb was awarded a coveted Fringe First at the 2006’s Edinburgh Festival and was featured in the SBC’s Christmas Season programming.
Elena commissioned, edited, published, recorded, and premiered two volumes of new contemporary piano music. These were published and co-edited by Boosey & Hawkes: Salsa Nueva, a ground- breaking collection of 16 new piano works inspired by salsa was followed by Out of the Blues featuring many new compositions inspired by blues.
Recent performances included the Purcell Room, Sounds Venezuela Festival at the SBC, Frome Festival, Jackdaws Music Education Trust, Barcelona Festival of Song, Anglia University, St Paul’s Sinfonia Riu was part of the jury of the 2016 and 2022 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. This summer Elena will return to the Dartington International Summer School and Festival where she will offer masterclasses and premiere her new collaboration with award winning eco-poet Dom Bury. Elena will be also leading Yoga & Mindfulness sessions for all the participants.
Elena is a piano professor at Trinity-Laban where she was the Artistic Director of the cutting-edge contemporary series New Quays as well as the Artistic Director of the Homage to Catalonia festival and Co-Artistic Director of the New Lights festival of Keyboard Music.
Her educational interest and expertise extend to areas of Musician’s Health. As a fully qualified Yoga Teacher, Elena led a pilot study project on Yoga and Mindfulness for Pianists at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance followed by a series of Yoga & Mindfulness classes specifically for performance related anxiety. These sessions have continued for the past six years.
This season Elena was a jury member for the BBC Young Musician of the Year and will be in residence at the 2022 Dartington International Summer School where she will give masterclasses, recitals plus Yoga and Mindfulness for Musicians.
Next year includes a residency at Jackdaws Educational Trust, workshops and master classes at The Edinburgh Music School and Bath Spa University.
Riu’s vivacious articulation really shines. A beguiling performance of a unique programme.
Salsa Nueva is new music with a difference...just the kind of fresh air that this Venezuelan-born pianist loves to bring to her musical activities and everyone else's.
"The delicate precision of her playing leaves a wonderful sense of anticipation before every next move."
My disc of 2000 is without hesitation Elena Riu’s extraordinary CD of 20th century piano music.
The dynamic Venezuelan pianist Elena Riu has hit a potential jackpot with this innovative collection of freshly commissioned piano pieces. Riu makes clear her intention to reach out to a youth market and there is every chance that she will succeed in reaching her target audience.
All the works are spellbinding in Riu’s readings; it is because each note is so exposed that the integrity of these interpretations is so compelling. Riu’s mastery of all-but-inaudible range is not only wonderful but a rare gift in this era of competition winners.
American Record Guide