Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Nafis Umerkulova began playing the piano at the age of five inspired by her mother who was a pianist. She started performing from the age of seven and soon became a laureate of the “Sog’lom Avlod Uchun” National Piano Competition in Tashkent, the International Balys Dvarionas and the Nikolai Rubinstein Piano Competition.
In 2004, Nafis was invited to continue her musical education at the Purcell School, Royal Academy of Music (2006) and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (2010). During these years, she studied with professors William Fong, Tatiana Sarkissova and Aaron Shorr and was the first pianist from Uzbekistan awarded a full scholarship at every place of study.
Nafis has received mentorship from artists such as Pascal Devoyon, Pascal Rogé, Steven Osborne, Steven Kovacevich, Robert Levin and many others. She was also among a select few granted a scholarship and chosen to participate at the Tel-Hai International Masterclasses under the tutelage of Dmitri Bashkirov. Passionate both as a soloist and a chamber musician, Nafis regularly performs in the UK and abroad. Her numerous performances in the UK include recitals in Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Glasgow City Halls, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham Symphony & Town Halls.
Nafis has also enjoyed performing internationally at the Tashkent State Conservatoire, Philharmonic Hall in Ljubljana, Casa della Musica in Arezzo, Florence Lyceum Club, Centro Caprense Ignazio Cerio in Capri, La Casa de los Pianistas in Seville. After completing her formal studies, Nafis chose to undertake further advanced study projects at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire with Prof. Deniz Gelenbe and at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Professors John Thwaites and Margaret Fingerhut. Nafis is a recipient of numerous awards and prizes, which include the prestigious Myra Hess Award by Help Musicians UK, Edith Steinitz Prize and a 3rd prize at the International BRANT Piano Competition. Her performances have been broadcast for a BBC documentary about Schubert’s works, by national radio and television in Uzbekistan and Slovenia. In 2019 Nafis released her debut album “Darkness illuminated” featuring the music of Alexander Scriabin and Alexei Stanchinsky.
In addition to her performing career, Nafis is highly enthusiastic about teaching and regularly dedicates time to sharing her experience with younger students. She is currently a member of the piano department at the Purcell School, London Russian Music Academy and the annual Philomel Music Academy.
Nafis is deeply grateful to the Fagus Anstruther Memorial Fund and the Matthiesen Foundation for their continued interest and support in her career.