Nicholas Ashton was educated at Chetham’s School, RNCM, at the Conservatoire superièur de musique Geneva, Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt-am-Main and the University of Edinburgh. Following a successful early career as a solo pianist, he worked as an English teacher and translator in Germany and in artist management in London, before resuming performing after encouragement from Murray Perahia and Menahem Pressler.
A critically acclaimed debut at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall led to a commercial live disc of the recital in 1996 and increasing offers to play both in the UK and in Germany, where he has been a regular guest artistic director of the Hamburg Chamber Arts Association Society since 2000, performing over sixty separate solo and chamber recitals. He has also given many recitals and masterclasses in the USA, Finland, Italy and throughout Germany and the UK, including the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, Liverpool Hope, RNCM, RCS, RAM, Durham, Sussex, Surrey, Bristol, London.
Nicholas has recorded many times for the BBC, (recently accompanying two soloists on Radio 3’s In Tune performing in Bellini’s Norma at the Edinburgh International Festival 2016) on West German NDR 2 and 4, Bayern 4, Radio Swisse Romande, Radio New Zealand and in the USA. His repertoire extends to some 25 concerti, solo repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the contemporary, a wide range of chamber music and Lied.
In 2008, a première recording, for Delphian Records, of the complete piano works and piano quintet by the distinguished Scottish composer Robert Crawford received international praise in the media. Nicholas has worked regularly with the Edinburgh Quartet, performing almost all of the core piano quintet repertoire.
He works with Lithuanian pianist Lauryna Sableviciute, with whom he has recently formed a duo entitled Re: Sono, with the intention of combining new work written for two pianos with less-well known repertoire. Lauryna and Nicholas have already received commissions and dedications from a number of composers and have premiered them. Nicholas is also preparing a recording of the complete works for two pianos and piano duet by Mozart with the German pianist Franck-Thomas Link for 2017 and in 2018 will be involved in a documentary film concerning Chopin’s brief but memorable stay in Scotland 200 years previously.
Nicholas is Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the Classical Bachelor of Music with Honours Degree at Edinburgh Napier University, leading classes covering all aspects of performance as well as supervising all instrumental and vocal teaching. His carefully nurtured students have been successful in developing their work as postgraduates at all the major British conservatoires. He has a strong interest in performance as research, with particular reference to the creation of an interpretational trace in the presentation of première performance.
Between 2010 -12, Nicholas was Specialist External Assessor for all undergraduate and postgraduate pianists at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Scottish International Piano Competition in 2014. He is also in demand as an adjudicator, including at Eton College, St. Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh, High School of Dundee and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has recently been invited to become a Co-Director of a newly-founded Music School in Dunbar.