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Borletti-Buitoni Trust

Being a BBT winner has given me the bravery to carry on taking my own path in music. It is a massive honour to be included in such an amazing list of musicians! BBT has been an inspiration and has given me the support and confidence needed to pursue the huge challenges of making a career as a classical musician.

Kate Whitley"

Born in 1989, Kate Whitley is a pianist and composer whose work in bringing classical music out of the concert hall and into new contexts has been hailed as part of “the most exciting development in classical music for decades, if not centuries” (The Times, 2011). She is the co-founder and artistic director, with conductor Christopher Stark, of Multi-Story, which began with a critically acclaimed performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in a disused multi-storey Car Park in Peckham, London to an audience of more than 1,500 people. She graduated from Cambridge University in 2011 with a Double First in Music and MPhil in Composition. She began playing the piano aged four and composing aged 13, with teachers including Mark Hooper, John York, Rolf Hind and Robin Holloway. She premiered her own Concerto for Piano and Strings in 2009 under Sven Tpel at the Bishopsgate Institute, and her Wigmore Hall debut recital took place in 2012.  She has been hailed as a ‘remarkable and innovative young musician of huge promise’ (Seen and Heard International, 2012), and her music has been described as ‘uniquely sensitive’ (Bachtrack, 2013), ‘exquisitely engaging' (Broadway Baby, 2011), and ‘powerfully moving’ (Edinburgh Fringe Review, 2011). She received a Sky Arts/Ideas Tap Futures Fund Bursary in 2013 and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Special Award in 2014 and was appointed 2013-4 Music Fellow at Rambert Dance Company. She has composed three operas to date: Bonesong, about a vulture making an instrument from a child’s carcass, Unknown Position, about a woman in love with a chair, and Terrible Lips, a sci-fi dance opera. “A generation tainted by nothing except enthusiasm, daring, virtuosity and idealism is blazing onto the scene … Kate Whitley is typical of this bold new breed” (The Times, 2011).

Photographs by Ambra Vernuccio


Kate Whitley plays her Five Piano Pieces
Kate Whitley opens BBT Wednesdays at Wilton’s concert series, 25 February 2015, with her own Five Piano Pieces in the main hall of Wilton’s Music Hall, London.  Kate writes: "I started playing the piano when I was four or five, and started composing when I was about sixteen. After writing a few early piano pieces (which I’d probably be very embarrassed by if I re-discovered them now), I didn’t write anything for solo piano for years. I decided to try again last year, and arranged these tiny sketches for piano. They are very gestural and fragmented, like a lot of my music. Each of them focuses on an obsession with a single note or idea."


Kate Whitley and Sean Shibe at Wilton’s Music Hall
On 25 February 2015 BBT award and fellowship winners, pianist Kate Whitley and guitarist Sean Shibe opened a five-month-long concert series at London’s exquisite Wilton’s Music Hall.  BBT film-maker Graham Johnston was on hand to record their impressions and plans in being presented with a carte blanche to programme whatever they wanted.  They shared the stage in the Main Hall, but from March Sean will lead BBT artists in inaugurating the newly reclaimed cocktail bar upstairs for an evening of intimate music making.