Finnegan Downie Dear

** First Prize Winner at the Mahler Conducting Competition 2020**

Music Director, Shadwell Opera


“The Shadwell Ensemble played with terrific fervour…a lovely performance by the orchestra of Ravel’s fairytale ballet score, Mother Goose, the silky sonorities beautifully balanced by Downie Dear.”
Neil Fisher, The Times, 28 October 2019

©Frank Bloedhorn


Winner of the Mahler Competition 2020, Finnegan is increasingly recognised for his extraordinary musicianship, his command of complex scores, and his intense and mature performances.

Following a week conducting the Bamberger Symphoniker in a variety of repertoire, Finnegan won this summer’s Mahler Competition, leading a final concert which included the world premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s move 04 ‘Memory Full’ and Mahler Symphony No. 4, with soloist Barbara Hannigan. Last season he made concert debuts conducting the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, Klangforum Wien, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, State Philharmonic of Kosice and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Future symphonic engagements include concerts with the London Philharmonic and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Bamberger Symphoniker, who following the competition, immediately re-invited him.

As much at home in the opera house as in the concert hall, his recent operatic engagements include his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducting Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Gerald Barry); he was due to return and conduct a new production of The Turn of the Screw before its postponement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Future plans include Rigoletto at the Royal Swedish Opera, The Turn of the Screw at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Eugene Onegin at Oper Frankfurt and a new production at the Tiroler Festival Erl.

As Music Director of the award-winning company Shadwell Opera, he collaborates with the UK’s finest young singers and instrumentalists, bringing stagings of seminal twentieth-century and contemporary works to new audiences. His performances with Shadwell Opera have received consistent acclaim in the national and international press – among them works by Benjamin, Maxwell Davies, Turnage. Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Last year, Shadwell Opera’s most ambitious project to date saw it tour with its orchestra and ensemble to the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, for the Russian premiere of Oliver Knussen Where the Wild Things Are.

For more information, please contact Henry Lindsay.


Video & Audio

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    26 Oct 19 Ravel & Knussen Shadwell Opera Company
    Alexandra Palace, London

    “The Shadwell Ensemble played with terrific fervour under Finnegan Downie Dear”…” a lovely performance by the orchestra of Ravel’s fairytale ballet score, Mother Goose, the silky sonorities beautifully balanced by Downie Dear.”

    Neil Fisher, The Times, 28 October 2019

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    02 May 19 Pastoral Symphony Beethoven
    Štátna filharmónia Košice

    “During this performance we had the opportunity to fully admire the  abilities of conductor Finnegan Downie Dear. Thanks to his precise, inspiring and masterful conducting, we could immerse ourselves in the perfection of Beethoven’s musical thinking.”
    Lýdia Urbančíková, Opera Slovakia, 06 May 2019 

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    25 Apr 19 Sibelius “Valse Triste” Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

    “Finnegan Downie Dear refreshingly brings life to this often routinely performed work. He sensitively draws out the fragility of the piece, accentuating the quiet sad tones and softening over the top cheeriness.”
    Nicholas Ringskog Ferrada-Noli, Dagens Nyheter, 26 April 2018


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    03 Feb 18 Greek Scottish Opera
    Theatre Royal, Glasgow

    “In the pit, the soloists of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera were on first class form as a deranged cabaret band, under the baton of Finnegan Downie Dear.”
    Keith Bruce, The Herald, 4 February 2018

    “The small twenty strong band of an eclectic mix of instruments under conductor Finnegan Downie Dear tackled the tumultuous and quirky score with infectious verve and enthusiasm.”
    David Smythe, Bachtrack, 5 February 2018 

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    03 Nov 17 The Light House Peter Maxwell Davies
    Shadwell Opera

    “At the close, a chaotic cacophony of sound and light engulfed the men, and us, bringing to a spine-chilling close the tremendously incisive performance by the 12-piece Shadwell Ensemble, conducted with precision and economy by Finnegan Downie Dear. The Ensemble conveyed every macabre twitching texture, and explosive flash and flicker – wind and wave, by turn an eerie whisper or wailing squall – of Davies’s score”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 12 November 2017

    ‘The virtuosic Shawell Ensemble, a 12-strong ensemble thrillingly energised by conductor Finnegan Downie Dear, becomes a part of the show’
    Mark Valencia, Whats on Stage, 04 November 2017

    “The young Shadwell Ensemble, conducted my Finnegan Downie Dear, gives a raw, sometimes overwhelming account of the score.”
    Amanda Holloway, The Stage, 6 November 2017

    ‘Shadwell Opera rises to the challenge splendidly… the text delivered often with searing intensity. The 12-strong Shadwell Ensemble, under the alert direction of Finnegan Downie Dear, make a fine contribution to an admirable project.’
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, November 2017

    “Maxwell Davies’ seascape, performed with exemplary clarity and real dramatic zest by the young Shadwell Ensemble and conductor Finnegan Downie Dear…Woodwind brushed the air like clammy fingers of sea must, strings scuttled and swooped in squawling eddies, and a single horn placed high above the audience in a gallery thrust out its stentorian fog-call…It’s a scowling, baleful sort of score, and one we heard in all it’s cinematic clarity here.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, Opera Magazine,November 2017


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    07 May 16 Twice Through the Heart Erwartung
    Shadwell Opera

    “Conductor Finnegan Downie Dear finds the distinct sonic language of each score, drawing brutally precise and expressive playing from his young band, whether in Turnage’s rasping, guttural music or Schoenberg’s glittering handfuls of textural invention.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Independent,  

    “The conductor Finnegan Downie Dear balanced his forces carefully, deploying the composer’s violent orchestral colours with expressive control.”
    Opera Magazine, November 2016

    “Both scores were brilliantly brought to life by a virtuosic ensemble directed by Finnegan Downie Dear”
    The Times, November 2016