Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Iain FarringtonBiography


Iain Farrington has an exceptionally busy and diverse career as a pianist, organist, composer and arranger. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and at Cambridge University. He has made numerous recordings, and has broadcast on BBC Television, Classic FM and BBC Radio 3. Through his multi-faceted work as a musician, he aims to bring live music to as wide an audience as possible. Iain’s concert programmes often mix popular and jazz elements into the traditional Classical repertoire. His many chamber orchestral arrangements allow large-scale works to be presented on an affordable smaller scale, and his compositions range from virtuoso display pieces to small works for beginner instrumentalists.


As a solo pianist, accompanist, chamber musician and organist, Iain has performed at all the major UK venues, including the Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the BBC Proms, Bridgewater Hall Manchester, St David’s Hall Cardiff, and Birmingham Symphony Hall. Abroad he has given concerts in the USA, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia, Hong Kong and all across Europe. He has worked with many of the country's leading musicians, including Bryn Terfel, Sir Paul McCartney and Lesley Garrett.


Iain played the piano at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics with Rowan Atkinson, the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, broadcast to a global audience of around a billion viewers. He has recorded his arrangement for solo piano and orchestra of Elgar’s Concert Allegro with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, as well as his solo piano arrangement of Elgar’s 2nd Symphony. The recording received an ‘Outstanding’ accolade in International Record Review as well as other critical acclaim. Iain’s solo piano performances of his jazz-inspired arrangements have been widely viewed. He has performed on numerous occasions at the BBC Proms. His first appearance was in 2001 performing solo piano works and chamber music by Esa-Pekka Salonen. His solo performance in the Proms 2007 on the Royal Albert Hall organ was critically acclaimed, the Independent writing “he’s an authentic star, and deserves to have a Prom all to himself.” In 2016 he played the piano in a performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at the Naval College in Greenwich with the BBC Singers. As an ensemble pianist, Iain has performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia and City of London Sinfonia. He gives regular concerts with chamber groups Counterpoise and his own Farrington Ensemble. Iain has also performed as an orchestral keyboard player with the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra. As a session pianist, Iain has recorded numerous film and TV soundtracks for Hollywood, Disney and independent productions.


As an organist, Iain has given solo recitals at Birmingham Town Hall, the Bridgewater Hall Manchester, in cathedrals across the UK and in Reykjavik Iceland. In 2011 and 2013 he played organ works by Arnold Schoenberg and Eric Zeisl in Los Angeles for concerts presented by the Schoenberg family. Iain has accompanied choirs around the world, including concerts with the London Philharmonic Choir in Malaysia and Hong Kong. He was Organ Scholar at St John's College, Cambridge University, with whom he toured Japan, South Africa and Europe, and recorded English music for an award-winning series on the Naxos label. Previously he was Organ Scholar at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle where he played for numerous Royal occasions.


Iain is a prolific composer and arranger, and has made hundreds of arrangements ranging from operas to piano pieces. Iain’s compositions have been performed internationally and recorded on numerous labels. His 35 minute orchestral work Scary Fairy was performed and broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in 2015 on ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ with the BBC Philharmonic, narrated by Craig Charles. Following the success of this work, Iain is composing another piece with narration by Craig Charles for December 2016. For the Wallace and Gromit Prom in 2012 he composed a jazz guide to the orchestra Wing It, and a Double Violin Concerto, both of which were a critical and popular success. Iain’s choral work The Burning Heavens was nominated for a British Composer Award in 2010, and his setting of the canticles, the ‘Blues’ Service, has received numerous performances in churches and cathedrals. His organ music has been widely performed, notably Fiesta! which has received hundreds of performances worldwide and several commercial recordings and broadcasts. Other works include orchestral, instrumental and chamber works, choral music and many solo organ and piano works. Iain has composed much music for amateur choirs, youth orchestras and beginner instrumentalists. His series of piano volumes Grade by Grade is published by Boosey & Hawkes and features many new compositions and arrangements for Grades 1 to 5. Iain’s music is always melodic, expressive and predominantly tonal, with strong jazz and rhythmic influences, covering a wide emotional range.


Iain’s numerous arrangements have been recorded, published and performed across the world. He has made arrangements in many styles, including traditional African songs, Berlin cabaret, folk, klezmer, jazz and pop. Iain is the Arranger in Residence for the Aurora Orchestra who have performed and recorded his compositions and arrangements, including notably all the songs for the Horrible Histories Prom in 2011. Also in 2011, the BBC Concert Orchestra performed his orchestration of a song for the Comedy Prom. The Palestine Youth Orchestra performed his symphonic orchestral arrangements of songs by the Rahbani brothers on their 2016 UK tour. He has made many reductions of large orchestral works for chamber orchestras and ensembles, notably a 15 player version of Mahler’s 1st Symphony, which has received hundreds of performances worldwide. Other major reductions include chamber versions of operas by Dvorak, Janacek and Tippett, and large symphonic works by Bartok, Brahms, Debussy, Elgar, Gershwin, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Wagner and many more. His chamber ensemble arrangement of Brahms’s German Requiem is frequently performed, and other notable reduced choral arrangements include Elgar Dream of Gerontius and Mendelssohn’s Lobegesang.  Novello have published a number of his choral arrangements of folk songs and hymns. Iain has made many solo piano arrangements for his own concerts, including three Elgar symphonies, several Mahler symphonies, and jazz-inspired version of songs by Gershwin, Irving Berlin, ABBA and more. His organ arrangement of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 5 was performed at the 2011 Royal Wedding in Westminster Abbey.


Iain also appears as a conductor, often in his own arrangements and compositions. In 2013 he conducted his own orchestral arrangements of African songs for the debut album of Pumeza Matshikiza on Decca Classics. The arrangements were widely broadcast on Classic FM and Pumeza has subsequently performed them worldwide. In 2011 Iain conducted his chamber version of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen for the Ryedale Festival, as well as Prokofieff’s Peter and the Wolf and his own Animal Parade. He conducted his own chamber arrangement of Massenet’s Werther from the piano for English Touring Opera in 2015. Also in 2015 he conducted the BBC Philharmonic in his orchestration of the music for the TV show Teletubbies. Iain was Assistant Conductor to Mark Elder with the Hallé Orchestra in March 2011.


Iain is the Co-General Editor of the Elgar Complete Edition, which is publishing definitive scores of Elgar’s entire compositional output. It also aims to widen performances and knowledge of Elgar’s music around the world.