Gary Matthewman made his professional conducting debut in 2018, directing the chamber orchestra in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with soloists Mark Padmore and Roderick Williams at The Sage, Gateshead. He is quickly gaining recognition as an emerging conducting talent focused on opera, oratorio and orchestral song – building on the skills and expertise he developed during twenty years working at the highest international level as a song recital pianist, repetiteur and vocal coach. His debut as an opera conductor - Donizetti's Roberto Devereux for Chelsea Opera Group at Cadogan Hall - was widely praised by the critics (see below).
In early 2019 Gary was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of London's Orion Orchestra. Highlights from their performances together include: Handel Messiah; Fauré Requiem; Beethoven Symphony No.4; Stravinsky Pulcinella Suite; Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf; operatic arias by Handel, Mozart and Strauss; Mozart Piano Concerto in C minor K491 and Violin Concerto in A K219; Shostakovich Cello Concerto No.1; and works for Strings by Purcell, Holst, Finzi, Sibelius and Grieg. Their choral and soloist partners have included: the Choir of King's College London; the Strand Consort; Imogen Cooper (piano); Gemma Summerfield (soprano); Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone); BBC broadcaster Zeb Soanes; Joe Pritchard (cello); Akiko Ono (violin); and Jonathan Stone (violin). Gary led Orion Orchestra's commissioning and performance of two world premieres: Smile, O voluptuous cool-breath'd Earth! – a choral setting of a Walt Whitman text, by Simon Rowland-Jones – and Prelude (with Bird, Cicadas and Bells) by Peter Longworth. He stepped down at the start of 2022, to focus more exclusively on opera and vocal repertoire.
As an assistant conductor in opera, Gary has been recently engaged by Glyndebourne, La Monnaie Brussels, Cape Town Opera, and the late Sir Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company (with the CBSO), working on a wide range of repertoire: Donizetti L’elisir d’amore; Puccini La bohème; Wagner Das Rheingold; Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk; Britten Turn of the Screw; and Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress.
Early 2022 took him to Amsterdam and The Hague to conduct the Netherlands premiere of Argento's Postcard from Morocco for the Dutch National Opera Academy, before returning to London to lead the Summer term opera scenes at the Royal College of Music. He recently conducted the Aria Reading masterclass with eight young singers and the orchestra of the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. Earlier this Autumn Gary performed piano concertos by Rachmaninov with Peter Donohoe and the St Cecilia Orchestra in Ripon Cathedral, before a return to Chelsea Opera Group for Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice at Cadogan Hall. In early 2023 he directs the world premiere of Geoffrey King's Darkly He Rose (a concert cantata exploring the life of New York poet Frank O'Hara) at the Royal Academy of Music, and will launch a new charity for classical singers: Brunswick Vocal Arts.
For conducting enquiries/engagements, please contact Gillian Newson:
+44 7 768 166 381
Critical praise for Gary's operatic conducting debut at Cadogan Hall, London:
'[Gary Matthewman] clearly has the makings of a dynamic opera conductor. I haven't heard Chelsea Opera Group's semi-professional band play with this edge-of-seat accuracy and panache in many a season. Matthewman has set a high bar for COG's incoming music director ... An unforgettable evening.'
The Times *****
'What an utterly exhilarating evening ... The conductor Gary Matthewman whipped up the Chelsea Opera Group's lively orchestra and chorus with sure dramatic instincts.'
Music OMH *****
'The orchestra, under the baton of Gary Matthewman, was shatteringly good from the outset ... the drama and excitement brought to the score were matched by equal levels of clarity and precision.'
Plays To See *****
'This was one of those evenings where the skill and persona of the conductor lifted everyone's level. Remarkable in one who has so recently transitioned from the keyboard to the podium, Gary Matthewman was fully on top of the demands of the score, deftly supporting and coordinating his soloists (with no monitors to help), while keeping the chorus on their toes, and alternately reining in or unleashing his orchestral forces to preserve a proper balance. The Chelsea Opera Group has helped launch many a distinguished conducting career and their talent-spotting skills show no signs of waning.'
'Gary Matthewman drew tidy playing from the orchestra, who relished the dramatic surges of Donizetti's score. This was a stirring and truly engaging performance ... '
Planet Hugill *****
'Gary Matthewman drew fine playing from the orchestra from the first moments of the overture, and throughout the evening the orchestra was on superb form. Matthewman's accompaniment was finely sympathetic ... his was a performance that flowed.'