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Jazz weekend with Nikki Iles – upper intermediate – diploma

28 March 2025 @ 7:00 pm - 30 March 2025 @ 3:30 pm

We are thrilled to welcome multi-award winning jazz pianist Nikki Iles to Finchcocks for a weekend devoted to jazz piano.

“A formidable UK jazz presence …” “Iles is one of the
most refreshing figures to have emerged in the UK scene in recent times” The Guardian (John Fordham)

“Formidably creative….

“The Heroine of British Jazz …”

This mixed ability weekend course for upper intermediate pianists upwards will treat pianists to the key elements of jazz either through exploration of Nikki’s own compositions (many of which can be found on the ABRSM piano syllabus) or interactive workshops.

Man playing grand piano with saxophonist in background

There will also be time to implement what they learned on one of our beautiful grand pianos. During these practice sessions, guests will also be scheduled a one-to-one lesson on our new Steinway with Nikki.

Nikki will give a performance of some of her latest repertoire on Saturday evening in the main hall of the family home. She’ll joined by equally talented composer, pianist, singer and teacher Pete Churchill to give guests the experience of witnessing some jazz collaboration. After a full day’s concentration, nothing beats hearing the course tutor inspiring guests with some current repertoire on the family Bosendorfer!

Guests will also:

  • Have the chance to play in and observe two performance masterclasses.
  • Will receive a one-to-one lesson with Nikki.
  • Enjoy access to play on our 9 grand pianos anytime between 7am and 8pm. (There are enough pianos to go round that everyone can play a piano at any given time.)
  • Experience a private accompanied talk for course participants in the main hall of the family home, performed by Nikki and Pete Churchill.
  • Join and socialise with a group 8 fellow piano enthusiasts during lunch and dinner.
  • Dine in style with lunches and three course dinners prepared by our fabulous chef.
  • Experience the Finchcocks bubble, hailed as a “paradise for pianists” by BBC Music Magazine and stay in a grade 1 listed country manor.

Nikki Iles

As a founder member of the hugely innovative Creative Jazz Orchestra in the early 90s,
Nikki Iles came to prominence working with musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Vince
Mendoza, Mark Anthony Turnage and Mike Gibbs. For many years, Nikki served a lengthy
apprenticeship in the North of England playing with the cream of British and American jazz
such as Peter King, Iain Ballamy, Art Farmer, Peter King ,Tina May and Jim Mullen. Many of
these relationships were re- kindled later ,when after a car accident, Nikki finally decided to
make the move to London in 1998. Here she joined the groups and toured and recorded with
musicians such as Steve Arguelles, Stan Sulzmann and Julian Arguelles and Norma
Winstone .Although well known as a pianist, composition still remains a major part of her
musical life. The breadth of Nikki’s artistic vision has led her to disregard the arbitrary
boundaries of the jazz scene and most notably, commissions have included a collaboration
with American dancer Mimi Cichanowicz , the UMO Jazz Orchestra in Finland, the London
Sinfonietta , The LPO’s Renga ensemble and this year “The Caged Bird” from the
International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers. Nikki was honoured to have her
piece HUSH commissioned by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra featured at the 2012
Proms ( BBC TV) and more recently write for the great American singer, Kurt Elling and The
Scottish National Jazz Orchestra .

Recently she has been particularly busy – she was awarded the prestigious Ivors Academy
Gold Badge and the Ivor Novello Award – winning the best large ensemble composition in
2021. Thorough lockdown, she won The Seattle jazz composition prize and was a recipient of
both The British Jazz and Parliamentary Jazz Awards and in the Queens New Years Honours
list 2022, a British Empire Medal for services to music . An inspirational teacher, she was
also awarded an Honorary RAM from The Royal Academy of Music and a Fellow of Birmingham
Conservatoire for outstanding contributions to the music. As a player she remains much in
demand with over 35 recordings to her name. Recent work has taken her across the world as
a member of the Julian Arguelles Octet, The Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Claire Martin and “The
North “, a Scandinavian/Anglo/Canadian collaboration .Her most recent recordings are –
“Hush “ with Americans, Rufus Reid and Jeff Williams. “Mirrors “ with Kenny Wheeler and
Norma Winstone, Lush Life with Stan Sulzmann and Dave Holland and with her own group,
The Printmakers “Westerly”. The last few 3 years also marks a new chapter in her long and
distinguished career with writing for larger forces .This new music will be taking her across
the world directing bands in Hungary, Germany ,Prague, Ireland and Colorado, which has
culminated in a post as artist in residence with the great NDR radio big band in Hamburg for
2023 and her debut CD with them (“Face to Face “ ).

With a parallel career as a widely respected teacher, Nikki is a Professor at the Royal
Academy of Music. She also gives masterclasses around the world and has been a driving
force behind the innovative Jazz syllabus at the ABRSM and continues to publish extensively
with Oxford University Press and EVC Music.

Pete Churchill

Pete Churchill has been working as a composer, pianist, singer and teacher for almost 30 years.
After twenty years teaching at the Guildhall, Pete is now Professor of Jazz Composition at the Royal
Academy of Music and Head of Jazz Voice at the Brussels Royal Conservatoire.
Whilst teaching regularly in Europe, Australia and the Far East (Hong Kong, Malaysia and
Singapore), Pete is recognised here as being at the forefront of Jazz education – receiving
the Parliamentary Award for Jazz Education in 2007 and nominated again in 2012 and 2017.
Being founder/director of ‘The London Vocal Project’ (LVP), led to work with Sir John
Dankworth & Dame Cleo Laine and Bobby McFerrin and more recently LVP recorded the
critically acclaimed CD ‘Mirrors’ with Ken Wheeler and Norma Winstone MBE. In 2017, after a lengthy
collaboration with the Jazz singer/lyricist Jon Hendricks, Pete and LVP travelled to New York to give the
world premiere of Jon Hendricks’ ‘Miles Ahead’.

As a pianist, Pete spent 15 years as accompanist to the legendary Jazz singer Mark Murphy and,
more recently worked with Sheila Jordan.He has been a member of both Kenny Wheeler’s and Abdullah
Ibrahim’s Vocal Projects and was privileged to be the conductor of the Kenny Wheeler Big Band,
culminating in the final album, ‘The Long Waiting’.

“(Royal Academy) students… have the good fortune to find themselves under the guidance of a unique force in British music…” London Jazz News

    Weekend courses

    from £675 (inclusive of accommodation, food, wine and tuition)


    28 March 2025 @ 7:00 pm
    30 March 2025 @ 3:30 pm
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