The OSESP choir was once again great to work with – very responsive and supportive, and I just love the way they’re so passionate about their singing!They wear their hearts on their sleeves which is very refreshing and made for some very exciting performances. I’m now looking forward to my Opera National du Rhin debut in Colmar where I shall conduct La Cenerentola.
I’ve recently returned from a week in Sao Paulo where I was conducting performances of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle at the stunning Sala Paulo with the Cor da OSESP. The Sala Sao Paulo is actually a converted railway station and is a wonderful place to perform. In fact you can still get the train to the concert hall! It has wonderful acoustics too..
I’ve spent the past couple of months preparing for what is going to be a busy autumn with lots of traveling – rehearsals in Strasbourg and Mulhouse before making my debut for Opera National du Rhin in Colmar (La Cenerentola), and before that a week in Sao Paulo conducting the Cor da Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo. I conducted them a couple of years ago with the London Philharmonic Orchestra which was a wonderful collaboration, and can’t wait to work with them again. The performances will be of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle which I absolutely love.
I have also just been invited to conduct performances of the St Matthew Passion for the St Endellion Festival next Easter. I’ve never been to the festival before, but know lots of people who have – it’s in a stunning situation in North Cornwall, and a wonderful occasion.
Just coming to the end of a wonderful two months assisting Lothar Koenigs on Lohengrin at Welsh National Opera. I chorus mastered for Tristan whilst at Glyndebourne, but this is the first time I have really learned a Wagner score, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Is there any better entrance music than when Lohengrin first appears in Act 1? Some of this music is just miraculous!
It’s been a real privilege to assist Lothar Koenigs, the Music Director at WNO. He lives and breathes every last drop/word of this opera, and is so passionate. This supplemented by a great cast has made the whole experience a real treat. I guess it’ll be a few years before I conduct a Lohengrin, but to be honest I’m champing at the bit – just love it! Always nice being back in Cardiff too, as I have two brothers who live here with their families.
Back to London soon, preparing lots of Rossini, for performances in Sao Paulo and Colmar in the Alsace!
Currently in London preparing Lohengrin and Mahler 1. I will be assisting Lothar Koenigs on Lohengrin at WNO, and conducting Mahler 1 at the Sheldonian in Oxford with the Oxford University Orchestra.
Lohengrin is easily the largest score I have worked on to date – Act 2 alone lasts an hour and a half….but thrilled to be discovering it! Great to come back to Mahler 1 which I associate intrinsically with my student days at the Royal College of Music – very happy memories conducting it in rehearsals and studying it with Neil Thomson with the wonderful RCM Sinfonietta! So I’m very happy to be performing it with students at Oxford University – a great orchestra, which Daniel Harding recently conducted. Also on the programme is Shostakovich Festive Overture and Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead.
I got back recently from a fabulous week in Chicago assisting Haitink with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis I got to know Bernard when I did masterclasses with him when I was a student at the RCM – amazing man, musician and conductor, and was thrilled to work with him again. Getting to know him and learning from him back then formed an important part of my formative years as a conductor, so working with him again a few years later felt like coming back to where I started. Concerts were a great success, and I loved seeing the sights around Chicago, highlights being sailing on Michigan with friends of the Haitinks.
I’m now back in London, preparing fro my Welsh National Opera debut next week, and my Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra debut in December. I also have a Mahler 1 to prepare for the new year, plus Lohengrin for which I’ll be assisting Lothar Koenigs at WNO.
Lohengrin – Wagner (Assistant Conductor)
Just coming to the end of my contract working at Welsh National Opera, where I’ve been assisting on Handel’s Jephtha – also conducting the final performance on the Tour at the Hippodrome in Bristol.
WNO is a fabulous company to work for, with a great cast too, including Rob Murray and Fflur Wyn who are old friends. I have two brothers who happen to live in Cardiff too so it’s been a real treat to hang out with them and their kids. One of my brothers runs a club night in Cardiff called Time Flies, and I had to help him out at short notice to take the money on the door one night – brilliant night, not least as I got to meet house legend Brandon Block.
Next up though is a performance of Saint Saens Organ Symphony in Durham Cathedral with Orchestra North East which should pretty special in such an amazing building. Also on the programme is Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens which will be wonderfully nostalgic for me, having sung it often as a boy. The day after I get back from Durham I fly to Chicago to assist Bernard Haitink on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – can’t wait.
Missa Solemnis – Beethoven (Assistant Conductor to Bernard Haitink)
Have just been invited by Bernard Haitink to assist him in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. I got to know Bernard when I was at the RCM and took part in masterclasses with him – will be thrilling to work with him again.
I shall also be conducting for WNO later this year, and for Opéra National du Rhin next year.
Having a brilliant time in Newcastle assisting John Wilson on a new production of West Side Story, with Will Tuckett creating a new choreography for the piece. Fabulous creative team, and they auditioned something like eight hundred dancers for the cast and assembled a fantastic company. Northern Sinfonia will be playing.
All the cast are dancers, with all except one having a music theatre background. It’s very refreshing to be working on this repertoire and on a piece of musical theatre with no opera singers – a very different dynamic. The dancers range between 19 and 30 in age and there is a great energy and ambition amongst them. I’m also quite blown away by how supportive they are of each other, and how willing they are to be helped and to help others with what they are doing.
Everyone knows West Side Story, and maybe it suffers from over-familiarity, but the music is INCREDIBLE. I really can’t get enough of it, and I hadn’t quite prepared myself for how tragic the ending is. The piece just sort of disintegrates, barely any singing at all for the final few numbers. Very bleak and very moving, particularly after all the action in the rest of the piece.
Just four performances which is a shame but it’s shaping up well, and will attract a lot of attention, as it’s the first time a new choreography has been created for the piece. Fascinating to work with Will Tuckett: he appears to have no pre-concept as to how he wants each number to choreographed but creates it there and then in the rehearsal. This makes everything vital and emotionally charged. Really the dancing just takes my breath away – never seen anything like it.
One useful by-product is that there’s dance class before each rehearsal and I tend to join in. Classes are mostly modern dance and also curcuit training and ballet. I can just about do first and second positions with plié but other than that I’m pretty rubbish. Great fun trying though.
I’ve just returned to Newcastle after an unforgettable weekend, when I conducted the RCM Chamber Choir on the LPO’s boat as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames. The orchestra played below deck and was conducted by David Parry, the singers above deck and very much exposed to the elements: the weather was horrific.
No cagoules or umbrellas allowed as we were singing directly to the Royal Barge at the end of the voyage by which stage we were all thoroughly drenched. This only served to summon up our patriotic spirits:
An incredible day! Unforgettable, really got caught up in the patriotic euphoria, and the media coverage of our oddysey has been quite something.
Now much drier and happily re-united with the fabulous cast for West Side Story rehearsals in Newcastle, assisting John Wilson, with Will Tuckett directing/choreographing.