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Well known to UK audiences as a song-pianist performing worldwide with many of our leading singers, in 2018 Gary Matthewman returned to conservatoire education to study the Musin conducting technique under Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music. Following a successful debut performing Britten’s War Requiem (chamber orchestra) with soloists Mark Padmore and Roderick Williams at The Sage, Gateshead, he is fast gaining recognition as an emerging conducting talent, with a focus on opera and vocal repertoire. His recent 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 2019 Gary was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of London's Orion Orchestra. Highlights from their performances together to date include: Handel's Messiah with the Choir of King's College London; Fauré's Requiem with the Strand Consort; Mozart's Concerto in C minor K491 with Imogen Cooper; works by Mozart and Strauss for horn and orchestra with Ben Goldscheider; Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf with BBC broadcaster Zeb Soanes; Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 with Joe Pritchard; works for Strings by Purcell, Holst, Finzi, Sibelius and Grieg; Beethoven's Symphony No.4; and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite. Gary has led Orion Orchestra's commissioning and performance of two world premieres: Prelude (with Bird, Cicadas and Bells) by Peter Longworth; and Smile, O voluptuous cool-breath'd Earth, a new choral setting of a Walt Whitman text, by Simon Rowland-Jones, with soloists Gemma Summerfield (soprano) and Jonathan Stone (violin). He steps down at the end of 2021, to focus on opera and vocal repertoire. 

As an assistant conductor in opera, Gary has been engaged by the late Sir Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company with the CBSO (Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Wagner Das Rheingold); Glyndebourne (Donizetti L’elisir d’amore and Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress); Cape Town Opera (Puccini La bohème); and La Monnaie, Brussels (Britten Turn of the Screw).

Early 2022 takes him to Amsterdam and The Hague to conduct Argento's Postcard from Morocco for the Dutch National Opera Academy. Later in the year he returns to the Chelsea Opera Group for Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

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Critical praise for Gary's operatic conducting debut at Cadogan Hall, London, October 2021:

The Times *****

'What an utterly exhilarating evening ... The conductor Gary Matthewman whipped up the Chelsea Opera Group's lively amateur 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.'

Opera Today

'Gary Matthewman drew tidy playing from the orchestra, who relished the dramatic surges of Donizetti's score.'

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.'