Since her New York debut recital at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2002, Dublin-born pianist Isabelle O’Connell has developed an international career that has taken her across four continents. As soloist and chamber musician she has performed around the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, U.K. and Ireland, to venues such as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Cleveland Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of art, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, Belfast Festival, St David’s Hall, Cardiff and the National Concert Hall, Ireland.
Now based in New York, Isabelle is co-founder of GrandBand, New York’s new music piano sextet, described by the New York Times as: "six of the finest, busiest pianists active in New York's contemporary-classical scene”. Making their debut at the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York in 2012, they have since performed around the United States and U.K. at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Gilmore Piano Festival, Le Poisson Rouge, New York, the Rite of Summer Music Festival, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Sheffield University and Cornerstone Festival, Liverpool.
Receiving a standing ovation at her New York Debut recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in January 2002, the New York Concert Review wrote: “She has the technical prowess… and a spirit and intelligence to bring it all together.” Isabelle has a reputation for being a dynamic interpreter and energetic advocate of music by 20th and 21st century composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works. She has worked with John Adams, John Luther Adams, Meredith Monk, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Morton Subotnick, Kevin Volans, Bunita Marcus, Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, amongst many others. In 2007, Isabelle was co-Artistic Director of “New Music, New Ireland, New York”, a concert that showcased contemporary Irish composers at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. Her debut solo album RESERVOIR featuring solo piano music by contemporary Irish composers was released to critical acclaim in 2010 and the New Yorker called her “the young Irish piano phenom”.
As concerto soloist Isabelle has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland under conductors William Eddins, Gerhard Markson and Gavin Maloney. Her recording of Kevin Volans’ Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Winds with the NSO was released on the Lyric FM label in 2014.
As chamber musician, Isabelle has performed with John Adams at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, with Meredith Monk at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival and with the New Zealand String Quartet at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. Isabelle often performs with CRASH ensemble, joining them on tours of Australia and the United States, performing at the Canberra International Chamber Music Festival, Sydney Conservatoire, Kennedy Center, Princeton University, Peak Performances Montclair, Virginia Tech, Le Poisson Rouge in New York and the Galway International Arts Festival, Reich Effect Festival and Sounds of a Safe Harbor Festival, Ireland. She is also a member of the Friends of MATA ensemble and the Curiosity Cabinet in New York. In addition, she has performed with Alarm Will Sound, the Da Capo Chamber Players, American Symphony Orchestra, Ergodos ensemble, the New Zealand and ConTempo String Quartets.
Isabelle has also worked with Grammy award-winning vocalist Susan McKeown, featuring on her album Singing in the Dark and composer Jenny Olivia Johnson’s album Don’t Look Back on Innova Records.
In addition to winning an award from Artists International in 2001, Isabelle was the recipient of the Tibor Paul Medal, the 1998 Mabel Swainson Pianoforte Award at the Feis Ceoil (which led to her debut recital at the John Field Room in Dublin) and the Ulster Bank Music Foundation Piano Award (making a television appearance on the “Late Late Show”). Some of her other awards have included a Fulbright scholarship, Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholarship, John F. Kennedy scholarship, Music Network Touring awards and multiple awards from the Irish Arts Council and Culture Ireland.
Isabelle has recorded for the Diatribe, Innova and Lyric fm labels. She has appeared on television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic, with performances broadcast on WNYC, WQXR, WFMT Chicago, BBC3, RTE, TV3 and Lyric FM radio.
Isabelle is currently on the piano faculties at Bard College and the Diller-Quaile School of Music, New York. She is a former faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music and the Kaufman Center’s Lucy Moses School, NY. Isabelle has a particular interest in music involving extended piano techniques and is often invited to give workshops on the topic, in addition to giving masterclasses for pianists and composers. Isabelle received her Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She subsequently studied with Zitta Zohar in New York. Her earlier studies took place at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin (Réamonn Keary, Therese Fahy) where she received her B.A. in Music Performance.