Born in 1969, French-Indian cellist Arun Rao is one of Ireland’s leading and most versatile musicians. A noted performer of repertoire for unaccompanied cello, Rao’s performances of the complete Suites by J.S. Bach earned him considerable acclaim in the late 1990s. He performed complete sets of works by Reger, Piatti, Gabrielli, as well as Bach’s Suites, on three consecutive days in three different Dublin churches in April 2004 and has championed the solo sonatas of Hungarian composers Kodaly and Ligeti in recitals throughout Ireland. His solo performances with orchestras include live broadcasts (RTE Lunchtimes series) of works by Darius Milhaud, Ottorino Respighi and Tchaikovsky, as well as works for Violin, Cello & Orchestra byBrahms, Delius and the Sinfonia Concertante by Mozart for violin, viola & orchestra playing the viola part unchanged, with his life-long partner, Irish violinist Gillian Williams. He also performed the viola part from Mozart’s two String Duets K. 423 & 424, and Schumann’s neglected Märchenerzählungen.
Rao gave many Premieres over the course of a thirty-year career of works by Rhona Clarke (In Umbra, 2001; Jagged Edge, 2001), Raymond Deane (The Wall of Cloud,1999; Pentacle, 2000; String Quartet No.1, 2013), Gerard Barry (Triorchic Blues- cello version, 2009), Colman Pearce and Stephen Gardner, some of them composed expressly for DUO CHAGALL, the string duet he founded with Ms Williams. The duo also gave maiden Irish performances of Christian Sinding’s Piano Trio No.1 (2014), Ludomir Różycki’s Rhapsody (2016), Matyas Seiber’s Sonata da camera (2017), Erik Satie’s Sonatine bureaucratique (in Rao’s transcription), Henriette Renié’s Harp Trio and Guy Ropartz’s Piano Trio, the last three as part of the series French Chamber Music, 1914-18 which he directed and curated (The Hugh Lane, 2015-16).
Cello Lecturer at TU Dublin (formerly DIT) since 1994, Rao contributed to a number of significant teaching programs (DIT Cello Scalebook, 2014; DIT Cello Class for students in continuous education; string arrangements for the DIT Sinfonietta) and is the only member of staff doubling as piano accompanist. His article ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’ on tutoring left-handed cello students was published by the magazine ARCO in 2009. Rao’s 2013 Masters dissertation ‘Pierrots fâchés avec la lune’: Debussy, Fauré & Ravel during WWI was critically acclaimed; he is currently preparing a doctorate on the contributions of Camille Saint-Saëns to the philhellenism of the Belle-Epoque.