Adam Swayne

Deputy Head of Keyboard Studies

MusB (Hons), MMus, DM (Northwestern University, USA), GRNCM, SFHEA


  • Piano Teaching
  • School of Keyboard Studies activities
  • Performance Studies
  • Performing Contemporary Music
  • Music, Culture and Performance
  • The Changing Face of the Concerto since 1789

Pianist Adam Swayne studied on the joint course between the University of Manchester and the RNCM before completing his doctorate as a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. His principal teachers were John Gough, John Casken, Kevin Malone and Ursula Oppens. 

Since returning from the US, Adam has developed a busy performing career that includes frequent concerto appearances, solo recitals and ensemble performances. He has been Programme Director for Riot Ensemble since its inception in 2009. He also performs with the John Ireland Piano Trio and he was a Park Lane Young Artist in 2008.

In April 2019 BBC Music Magazine named his solo recital CD (speak to me): new music new politics as Instrumental Monthly Choice. BBC Radio 3’s Record Review said that it is ‘brave … flambouyant … a cleverly designed, exuberantly performed and arresting excerise in putting the politics back into the piano recital’. It was the only CD to be nominated in two categories at the 2019 Opus Klassik awards in Germany.

Adam’s research interests also focus on the performance and culture surrounding the nineteenth century concerto and include (re)discovery of works by German composer Ferdinand Ries. 

Adam is a composer and conductor, having served as Music Director for Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) in Sussex (2008-2017) and nationally between 2012 and 2014.

Adam began working at the RNCM in September 2017 having previously taught at Junior RAM and at the University of Chichester where he was Head of Chamber Music.

The Times described him as ‘a pianist of formidable technique and high intelligence’ and the Evening Standard as ‘the ideal blend of panache and subtlety’.


Personal Website

Current and Future Research

1)    The Piano Concerto: (Re)discovery and development. 1750 – present

  • Publication: The original version of Ferdinand Ries’ Op.123 Piano Concerto (1806), which includes previously unheard and strikingly inventive material composed in Vienna under Beethoven’s influence. This project will also generate performances and journal articles as part of the larger investigation. 
  • Performances: Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto, LSO St Luke’s 12/01/18. Mozart Double Concerto, KEMS Macclesfield 11/05/19. Rachmaninov 2, Poole 23/07/19.

2)    International Premières: Solo and Ensemble

  • Solo Recording: (speak to me) new music new politics released in January 2019 on the Coviello Label. Première recordings by Amy Beth Kirsten (Peabody Institute) and Kevin Malone (University of Manchester) alongside works by Rzewski, Gershwin and Morton Gould. Presentation at ‘Balancing the Mix’ conference (University of Memphis) 30/03/19.
  • World Première of Malone’s new work, University of Manchester 15/02/18. USA première 04/04/19 (Northwestern University, USA).
  • Ensemble Recordings: Riot Ensemble has released four albums to date.
  • Ensemble Performances: Riot Ensemble appeared at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2017, 2019 and 2020, and made their Wigmore Hall debut in 2021. 
  • Conference: Contemporary Music For All Festivals: March 2018 (University of Chichester), March 2020 (University of Manchester).
  • New Work: ‘Hawker Hunter’ for piano trio (completion July 2017, première by the John Ireland Trio July 2018). 


College and External Research Roles

Internal PhD Examiner

Research Funding

  • Cultural Recovery Fund: Riot Ensemble projects in 2021, including a collaboration with RNCM PRiSM (£36,000).
  • Siemans Foundation: Riot Ensemble awared inaugural Ensemble Prize (€75,000) in 2020.
  • John Ireland Trust: Grants (£1600 total) for performances of John Ireland’s Trios and Piano Concerto.
  • Arts Council England: Funding awarded for consecutive Riot Ensemble seasons (£12,075 in 2015, £13,001 in 2016, £22,080 in 2017, £46,611 in 2018, £85,300 in 2019)
  • Opus 2 Foundation: Funding awarded for Riot Ensemble seasons (£4000 in 2015, £3000 in 2016, £4000 in 2018, £2500 in 2019)
  • PRS: £5500 (2019)
  • RVW Trust: £1000 (2019)
  • Hinrichsen Foundation: £1000 (2019)
  • Ambache Charitable Trust: £1000 (2019)
  • Holst Foundation: £800 (2013)
  • Project: University of Chichester Music Academy. During my year as Regional Coordinator for the UCMA (2011–2012) I was able to secure the support of two major venues (Christ’s Hospital School and Lancing College) to host our weekly activities free of charge. Students accessing the UCMA on a weekly basis jumped from 12 to 27, and a further 60 students benefitted from one-off Taster Days. I was also able to secure several major concert venues free of charge (Southampton Guildhall, Windlesham House) plus the support of other organisations to put on collaborative concerts (including West Sussex Music Service, Southampton Concert Orchestra, Bernardi String Academy, Shoreham Singers, Contemporary Music for All, Charterhouse School and William Penn Primary School). These activities raised the profile of the UCMA and the University as a whole, and also secured charitable support for the Chichester-based Shipwrecked Mariner’s Society.
  • Commission: John Wheatley (£500) for new work Gridshell (2011)
  • Commission: Portsmouth Grammar School (£1000) for new work Santa Dances (2008)
  • Commission: Ebony Duo through Arts Council Scotland (£500) for new work Tarantella (2008)
  • Commission: Ebony Duo through Hope Scott Trust (£100) for new work Tarantella (2008)
  • Commission: I was able to commission composer Ailis Ni Riain to write a major new work for solo piano Beautiful Cracked Eyes (£1500) from funds generated by Arts Council England through the National Lottery (2008). 
  • Performance: Park Lane Group Young Artists Series (2008). The support of this organisation allowed me to put on a solo piano recital at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre.

Undergraduate Teaching

  • Piano tuition
  • Music, Culture and Performance
  • The Changing Face of the Concerto since 1789
  • Performing Contemporary Music
  • Performance Studies

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Piano tuition
  • Postgraduate mentoring

Professional Activity

Riot Ensemble: Programme Director and Pianist (since 2009)

CoMA (Contemporary Music for All): Music Director for Sussex Ensemble (2008-2017) and Conductor of National Ensembles (2012-2014)

University of Essex: External Examiner (2011-2014)