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. Since then, he has swiftly gained recognition as an emerging conducting talent focused on opera and oratorio – 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 performances as an opera conductor have been widely praised by the critics (see below).
Recent conducting engagements include Verdi's Ballo in maschera for Opéra de Baugé; Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Ulster Touring Opera; highlights from Mozart's Idomeneo for Brunswick Vocal Arts; Donizetti's Roberto Devereux and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice for Chelsea Opera Group; the Netherlands premiere of Argento's Postcard from Morocco for the Dutch National Opera Academy in Amsterdam and The Hague; opera scenes at the Royal College of Music; the Aria Reading masterclass with eight young singers and the orchestra of the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria; and piano concertos by Rachmaninov with Peter Donohoe and the St Cecilia Orchestra in Ripon Cathedral.
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 in 2022, to focus more exclusively on opera and vocal repertoire.
As an assistant conductor in opera, Gary has been engaged by Glyndebourne, Opera North, 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; Bizet Les Pêcheurs de Perles; Puccini La bohème; Wagner Das Rheingold; Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk; Britten Turn of the Screw; and Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress.
Gary recently launched a new charity to support young classical singers: Brunswick Vocal Arts. Their first performance - highlights in concert from Mozart's Idomeneo - took place in London this Autumn. Other future plans include 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.
For conducting enquiries/engagements, please contact Rachel Walters or Sophie Dand:
+44 (0) 7 747 487 993
+44 (0) 7 814 224 313
Critical praise for Gary's operatic conducting performances at Cadogan Hall, London (Roberto Devereux), and Opéra de Baugé, France (Un ballo in maschera):
opera-online.com/fr (translated from French)
‘A triumph … the opera unfolds congruously thanks, in the main, to the quality of the direction of the young English conductor Gary Matthewman. Within a few bars he made the orchestra sound transfigured in his hands, knowing how to balance his forces, highlight timbres, underline a phrase and use it, punctuate it clearly and vibrantly, characterize the moods: he did a superb job.’
forumopera.com (translated from French)
‘The magisterial direction of Gary Matthewman breathes constant life into this story. … The commitment of each performer, with an orchestra brought to incandescence by such exemplary conducting will remain etched in the memory of the listeners.’
'[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.'