Finnegan Downie Dear

Music Director, Shadwell Opera

“Thanks to his precise, inspiring and masterful conducting, we could immerse ourselves into the perfection of Beethoven’s music”.
Lýdia Urbančíková, Opera Slovakia, 06 May 2019 

** Nominated and shortlisted in the “Newcomer” category at the International Opera Awards 2020**

©Frank Bloedhorn


Born in London, Finnegan is a young conductor who is increasingly recognised for the maturity and intensity of his performances, bringing clarity and vitality to the most challenging of scores.

After graduating with distinction from Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, he worked as an assistant conductor for the world’s foremost opera companies – the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Opernhaus Zürich, Bayerische Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, Staatsoper Berlin and the Salzburger Festspiele – and with conductors including Simone Young, Thomas Adès, Daniel Harding, Matthias Pintsher and Richard Baker.

Recent highlights include debuts with Polish National Opera, conducting Mariusz Trelinksi’s award winning production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt; with Scottish Opera, leading Joe-Hill Gibbons’ critically acclaimed co- production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek; with Korea National Opera, conducting Christian Pade’s new production of Hänsel und Gretel, and with Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Hänsel und Gretel), where he will return this season.

2020 also sees him debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducting new productions of Britten The Turn of the Screw and Gerald Barry Alice’s Adventures Underground. Further engagements in the coming seasons include at Staatsoper Berlin, Oper Frankfurt, the Royal Swedish Opera and the Tiroler Festspiele.

On the concert platform, the 2018/19 season saw him debut with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Resonanz, BBC Concert Orchestra, RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Slovak State Philharmonic. Future plans include first appearances with the Luxembourg Philharmonic, Klangforum Wien, and with the New Japan Philharmonic.

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. This autumn, Shadwell Opera will tour with its orchestra to the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, for the Russian premiere of Oliver Knussen Where the Wild Things Are.

In 2017, Finnegan was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

For more information, please contact Henry Lindsay.


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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 quietly sad tones & 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