C O N D U C T O R S
Mark Austin’s performances of orchestral and operatic repertoire have been praised for their “eloquent intensity” (Guardian). Highlights in 2019 include Mark’s debut at Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre conducting ‘The Monstrous Child’ by Gavin Higgins and Francesca Simon. He is a finalist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Solti Conducting Competition in November, and has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. He performs Berg and Beethoven with East Anglia Chamber Orchestra, returns to Hatfield House Festival to conduct Ravel, Saint-Säens and Fauré, and collaborates with soloists including Guy Johnston, Kristine Balanas, Julien van Mellaerts and Siobhan Stagg. He works as assistant conductor at Garsington Opera and with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.
Recent highlights include ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ (Dartington International Festival), ‘Goyescas’ (The Grange Festival), ‘Tosca’ (Musique Cordiale International Festival) and a two-concert Brahms residency with Guy Johnston and Faust Chamber Orchestra at Hatfield House. Mark was assistant conductor for the world première production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s ‘Coraline’ (Royal Opera). He has worked with figures including Vasily Petrenko, Sian Edwards, Marin Alsop, David Parry, David Hill, Steuart Bedford, and the late Sir Colin Davis, and conducted orchestras including Aurora, Britten Sinfonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St John’s and the Hangzhou Philharmonic, China. Mark was awarded a Bayreuth Festival Young Artist Bursary and recorded the world première of Alex Woolf’s ‘NHS Symphony’ for BBC Radio 3, which won a Prix Europa. He studies with Sian Edwards and was awarded an International Opera Awards Bursary in 2017.
An accomplished pianist, Mark has performed at venues including Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, St John’s Smith Square, Holywell Music Room, Opera Bastille (Paris) and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre. He is musical assistant to The Bach Choir and regularly conducts the choir in concert and the recording studio. Born in London, Mark had lessons in violin and piano from an early age. He played in the National Youth Orchestra, and studied at Cambridge University and Royal Academy of Music, where he received numerous prizes and was appointed a Junior Fellow. Mark contributed a chapter on Wagner, Beethoven and Faust to the recently published ‘Music in Goethe’s Faust’. You can read more about Mark on www.mark-austin.net and follow him on Twitter @mark_aus_tin.
Michael Smedley was born in Nottingham and had his early musical experiences as a chorister in Southwell Minster. He is a graduate of London University. He sang as a Lay Clerk in New College Oxford and was a member of the distinguished Early Music group The Clerkes of Oxenford for 20 years. He was a Director of Music in a number of schools including long periods in New College Choir School and in The City of London School.
In 1977, he founded Oxford Pro Musica Singers and led them for over 30 years, making many highly regarded recordings and achieving success in a number of National and International competitions as well as performing a vast repertoire of music that included commissions, first performances and broadcasts.
For 15 years he conducted and presented concerts in the Royal Festival Hall for The Ernest Read Music Association, working with the top London orchestras. Over the years, he has conducted a large range of music with both professionals and amateurs, including work with ‘Period Instrument’ groups, a series of Mahler Symphonies, many Operas, avant-garde works and new commissions.
After living for 40 years in the Oxford area, he recently moved to Cambridgeshire where he continues to enjoy conducting, singing, performing on the violin and viola, has entered enthusiastically into the art of Campanology in Peterborough Cathedral and roams the country in support of his event horse.