Conductors & Piano

Thomas Adès CBE

Renowned as both a composer and a performer, Thomas Adès works regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies and festivals.

As a conductor, Thomas appears regularly with the Los Angeles, San Francisco and London Philharmonic orchestras, the Boston, London, BBC, Finnish Radio and City of Birmingham, Symphony Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouworkest, Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia. In opera, in addition to The Exterminating Angel, he has conducted The Rake’s Progress at the Royal Opera House and the Zürich Opera, The Tempest at the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera, and Gerald Barry’s latest opera Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in Los Angeles (world premiere) and in London (European premiere).

In the 2020-21 season Thomas is a featured composer at the Elbphilharmonie and will conduct the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and Deustche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in Europe. In the USA, he returns to the Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Cleveland Orchestra. To celebrate his fiftieth birthday in 2021, the Barbican Centre will host a celebration that includes a performance of Totentanz by the London Symphony Orchestra and an in-concert performance of The Tempest by Britten Sinfonia, both conducted by the composer.

David Afkham is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquestra y Coro Nacional de España since September 2019, following a highly successful tenure as the orchestra’s Principal Conductor since 2014. His work with the OCNE so far has featured critically acclaimed performances of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Bruckner Symphony No. 9, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Brahms’ Requiem, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, as well as several world premieres and semi-staged projects with Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer, Strauss’ Elektra, Bach’s St. Mathew Passion and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. Born in Freiburg, Germany, in 1983, David Afkham is in high demand as a guest conductor with some of the world’s finest orchestras and opera houses, and has established a reputation as one of the most sought after conductors to emerge from Germany in recent years.

Future highlights as a guest conductor include debuts with the Belgian National Orchestra, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona) as well as return invitations to the Copenhagen Philharmonic and NDR Elbphilharmonie.

As an opera conductor, David Afkham made a noted debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014, with Verdi’s La Traviata, later reviving the production for performances around the UK and Ireland for Glyndebourne on Tour. In 2017, he conducted Ginastera’s Bomarzo at Teatro Real in Madrid in a new production by Pierre Audi, to unanimous critical acclaim, and leading to an immediate re-invitation. In season 18/19 he made his German opera debut at Frankfurt Opera with Humperdinck’s Hänsel & Gretel, followed by Stuttgart Opera with Wagner’s Die fliegende Holländer. He opened his 19/20 season at Theater an der Wien with Dvorak’s Rusalka. In 20/21 he will conduct Tannhäuser at the Liceu Opera in Barcelona, and further ahead he is looking forward to conducting productions of Strauss’ Arabella and Wagner’s Meistersinger.

David Afkham began piano and violin lessons at the age of six in his native Freiburg. At 15, he entered the city’s University of Music to pursue studies in piano, music theory and conducting and continued his studies at the Liszt School of Music in Weimar. David Afkham was the first recipient of the ‘Bernard Haitink Fund for Young Talent’ and assisted Maestro Bernard Haitink in a number of major projects including symphony cycles with the Chicago Symphony, Concertgebouworkest and London Symphony Orchestra. He was the winner of the 2008 Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in London, and was the inaugural recipient of the ‘Nestle and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award’ in 2010. He and was Assistant Conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jungendorchester 2009-2012.

For full biography, please download Artists “publicity pack” with season biography and photos opposite.

Born in Milan, Giovanni studied at the Civica Scuola di Musica and at the Centre de Musique Ancienne in Geneva. He is a founder member of the Baroque ensemble “Il Giardino Armonico”, which he has led since 1989. With this ensemble, he has appeared as conductor and soloist on the recorder and Baroque transverse flute in Europe, United States, Canada, South America, Australia, Japan and Malaysia. He is Artistic Director of Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Poland and Principal Guest Conductor of Mozarteum Orchester and Kammerorchester Basel.

He has performed with many prestigious artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Giuliano Carmignola, Isabelle Faust, Sol Gabetta, Sumi Jo, Viktoria Mullova, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Emmanuel Pahud and Giovanni Sollima. Renowned for his refined and innovative interpretation of the classical and baroque repertoire, Antonini is also a regular guest with Berliner Philharmoniker, Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchester, Mozarteum Orchester, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, London Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

His opera productions have included Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Handel’s Alcina at Teatro alla Scala in Milano and Opernhaus Zurich, Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli at Salzburg Festival. During the 20/21 season, Giovanni conducts Alcina and Idomeneo at Opernhaus Zurich and returns to Mozarteum Orchester, Bamberg Symphoniker and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

With Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni has recorded numerous CDs of instrumental works by Vivaldi, J.S. Bach (Brandenburg Concertos), Biber and Locke for Teldec. With Naïve he recorded Vivaldi’s opera Ottone in Villa, and, with Il Giardino Armonico for Decca, has recorded Alleluia with Julia Lezhneva and La morte della Ragione, collections of sixteenth and seventeenth century instrumental music. With Kammerorchester Basel he has recorded the complete Beethoven Symphonies for Sony Classical and a disc of flute concertos with Emmanuel Pahud entitled Revolution for Warner Classics. In 2013 he conducted a recording of Bellini’s Norma for Decca in collaboration with Orchestra La Scintilla.

Antonini is artistic director of the Haydn 2032 project, created to realise a vision to record and perform with Il Giardino Armonico and Kammerorchester Basel, the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn by the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The first 8 volumes have been released on the Alpha Classics label with two further volumes planned for release every year.

Conductor & Lies Askonas Fellow

Bertie Baigent

Bertie Baigent is Assistant Conductor of the Colorado Symphony and Music Director of Waterperry Opera Festival. Recent and forthcoming highlights include a series of all-Beethoven concerts in Colorado, projects with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra as their Principal Guest Conductor, the League of American Orchestras Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Don Giovanni for Waterperry and Handel’s Partenope for Hampstead Garden Opera.

Bertie has assisted Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Jac van Steen and Masaaki Suzuki and collaborated with the Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, London Sinfonietta and Britten Sinfonia. He has also participated in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins and Pierre-André Valade, and as part of the Dirigentenforum in Germany.

Winner of the Royal Academy of Music’s Sir Henry Wood Scholarship and Ernest Read Prize in 2017, Bertie was the youngest semi-finalist in the London Symphony Orchestra Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in 2018. Between 2016-18 he was Chief Conductor the London Young Sinfonia.

Born in Oxford in 1995, Bertie read music at the University of Cambridge, going on to study conducting at the RAM with Sian Edwards and graduating with distinction. He is also a composer, his music having been commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and performed by the Aurora Orchestra, Fretwork and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. He is currently based in London and Denver.

Piano & Conductors

Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942, and studied piano under his parents. At age 11, he took part in conducting classes in Salzburg, under Igor Markevich

In 1954, Daniel began his recording career as a pianist. In the 1960s, he recorded Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with Otto Klemperer, Brahm’s Piano Concertos with Sir John Barbirolli, and the Mozart piano concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, this time serving both as pianist and conductor.

Ever since his conducting debut in 1967 in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Daniel has been in great demand with leading orchestras around the world. Between 1975 and 1989, he was principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris, and he held the position of Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra between 1991 and 2006. Since 1992, Barenboim has been General Music Director of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, where he was also artistic director from 1992 to August 2002. In 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Principal Conductor for Life, and in March 2003, he and the Staatskapelle were honoured with the Wilhelm-Furtwängler-Preis.

Beside his great classic-romantic repertoire, Daniel continues to focus on contemporary music.


Rodolfo Barráez

Berlin-based Venezuelan conductor Rodolfo Barráez made his European debut at Philharmonie Berlin in 2019 with the Hauptstadt Sinfonie-Orchester. Currently completing his Master’s conducting studies at Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Rodolfo is a natural communicator with infectious charisma, bringing remarkable vivacity, sensitivity and zeal to his artistry. From 2015-17, Rodolfo served as Principal Guest Conductor of the Falcón Symphony Orchestra.

A recipient of numerous international competition awards, Rodolfo recently took the 2nd Prize at the Inaugural 2020 Siemens-Hallé International Conductor Competition in Manchester (leading to immediate invitations with The Hallé), 1st Prize at the 2018 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México International Conducting Competition (OFUNAM), and was a participant at the prestigious Mahler Competition 2016.

In addition to The Hallé, significant future guest conducting engagements include RTVE Symphony Orchestra, Minería Symphony Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony, Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, Jalisco Philharmonic, and Orchestra UNAM Philharmonic, among many others.

Strongly influenced by his own remarkable education as part of El Sistema under the guidance of Teresa Hernández and José Abreu, Rodolfo is committed to contributing to music education. In 2019, Rodolfo founded the Falcón Conducting Workshop; an organisation which nurtures and supports the development of emerging conductors through masterclass and workshop series across Latin America, giving masterclasses at Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas. In addition, as part of El Sistema Greece and supported by the Hilti Foundation, Rodolfo provided performance training to young musicians from deprived communities in Greece, furthering his passion for bringing young people together through music performance and education.

Born in 1960, George Benjamin began composing at the age of seven. In 1976 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study with Messiaen, after which he worked with Alexander Goehr at King’s College, Cambridge.

When Benjamin was only 20 years old, Ringed by the Flat Horizon was played at the BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Elder. Benjamin’s first operatic work Into the Little Hill, written with playwright Martin Crimp, was commissioned in 2006 by the Festival d’Automne in Paris. Their second collaboration, Written on Skin was premiered at the Aix-en-Provence festival in July 2012 and has since been performed by 20 international opera houses. A new collaboration with Martin Crimp, Lessons in Love and Violence, was premiered at the Royal Opera House in May 2018, under the composer’s baton.

As a conductor Benjamin has a broad repertoire and has conducted numerous world premieres, including important works by Rihm, Chin, Grisey and Ligeti. He regularly works with some of the world’s leading orchestras, amongst them the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern.

Since 2001 Benjamin has been the Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King‘s College, London and was made a Fellow of the College in 2017. Benjamin was made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015 and was knighted in the 2017 Birthday Honours.

His works are published by Faber Music and are recorded on Nimbus Records.

Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of baroque and classical repertoire and since 2007 has been Artistic Director of The English Concert, one of Europe’s finest period orchestras. In 2013, following regular guest appearances for Santa Fe Opera, he became their Chief Conductor and in 2018 assumed the Music Directorship. Since taking up his position, he has conducted Cosi fan tutte, Fidelio, La Finta Giardiniera, Romeo et Juliette, Alcina and Candide. In the 2019 season, he also performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming. Born in Liverpool, Harry studied at the Royal College of Music and the University of Oxford.

The English Concert tour of Rodelinda, planned for Spring 2020, fell victim to the severe disruption caused by Covid-19, though, remarkably, a studio recording was swiftly re-planned and made observing the current restrictions and is due for release later this season. The English Concert also revised its planning to include a series of small-scale, highly-successful live streamed concerts from historic venues in the London area. Guest engagements later this season will include Bergen National Opera (La clemenza di Tito). In summer 2021, Harry returns to Santa Fe Opera to lead productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Le nozze di Figaro.