A commitment to expanding the solo cello repertoire has resulted in Lionel Handy commissioning and premiering many new works. Recently, he has also transcribed works by Brahms, Delius and Messiaen; the latter was included in his Carter/Messiaen centenary celebration CD in 2008. This CD, along with his subsequent Kodaly recording, featuring the monumental solo sonata, has received critical acclaim both nationally and internationally. Lionel was sponsored by the Royal Academy of Music to record a disc of Bax and this was followed by an eclectic ‘From Bohemia to Wessex’ CD. In August 2014, Lionel recorded the premier of Bate’s Concerto for Cello with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, along with the Bax concerto.
Lionel performs throughout the UK and Europe, and has given several solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall and South Bank. Much in demand as a chamber musician, Lionel has broadcast frequently for BBC Radio Three and European networks. He has made numerous commercial recordings, most recently the Korngold sextet for the German Tacet label. He is a member of London Music Phoenix Ensemble and Trio Eluard with whom he has performed in festivals in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain as well as the UK. He was invited twice to participate as a soloist in the South African Chamber Music Festival.
Lionel’s interest in British twentieth century music has led to performances of the concertos by Finzi, Bax, Walton and Delius. With the London Sinfonietta he has worked with many of the leading composers of more recent times, including Tippett, Berio, Lutoslawski, Henze, Carter, Part, Birtwistle, Reich and Knussen.
Lionel was principal cello with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields for ten years with whom he recorded extensively and toured widely throughout the United States and Europe. Later as solo cellist with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, he performed an eclectic range of concertos from CPE Bach and Boccherini to Tavener and Roxburgh. Lionel has played as guest principal with most of the UK’s leading orchestras including the Philharmonia, LSO, Halle, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and English Chamber Orchestra.
As a scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music, Lionel Handy won every prize for cello and chamber music, including the prestigious Moir Carnegie Recital Diploma prize and Principal’s Prize. He was also awarded first prize by Jacqueline du Pre in the Muriel Taylor Competition. With several other important scholarship awards, he was able to continue his studies with Janos Starker in Banff and with Pierre Fournier in Geneva. He has been professor at the Royal Academy of Music since 1982, and also teaches at the Birmingham Conservatoire in addition to summer schools throughout Europe. Lionel founded the New Forest Cello Academy in 2008 and many of his former pupils hold important positions in orchestras and ensembles throughout the UK. He was awarded F.R.A.M. from the Royal Academy of Music and plays on a cello by Fendt (circa 1820).