Conductors & Harpsichord

Peter Whelan

Artistic Director, Irish Baroque Orchestra & Marsyas Ensemble
Artistic Partner, Irish National Opera

© Jen Owens

Introduction

Peter Whelan is among the most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor, keyboardist and solo bassoonist. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas. Recent engagements have included appearances with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the English Concert, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Beethoven Orchester Bonn.

As conductor, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque era. Recent projects funded by The Arts Council (Ireland) and Creative Scotland involved recreating and staging live performances of choral and symphonic music from eighteenth-century Dublin and Edinburgh. This led to his award-winning disc ‘Edinburgh 1742’ for Linn Records and his 2017 reconstruction of the ‘Irish State Musick’ in its original venue of Dublin Castle.

Peter’s performances with the Irish Baroque Orchestra in 20/21 include Bach Brandenburg Concertos, Purcell Hail Bright Cecilia and Handel Messiah. With Irish National Opera and Irish Chamber Orchestra he performs Mozart Entführung aus dem Seraglio and Vivaldi Bajazet in a co-production with Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He makes his conducting debut with Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a programme of Bach and Vivaldi with mezzo soprano Katie Bray.

Ensemble Marsyas has performed internationally under Peter’s direction including performances at the Lammermuir Festival, Göttingen Handel Festival, Tetbury Festival and at Great Music in Irish Houses. During their 2020 Wigmore Hall residency, The Telegraph described Ensemble Marsyas as ‘very possibly this country’s finest period group – led by Peter Whelan, they perform with wonderful élan, transmitting their total enjoyment’.

Peter’s conducting in live performance and the recording studio has been widely praised for its “rich insight, style and charisma” (Guardian), its “stylish verve” (BBC Music Magazine), its “exuberance and elegance” (Irish Examiner), and its “slick tempi, grit and character” (Golden Plec).


Contact


Performance Schedule

 
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    20:00 05 Dec 2020 Wexford National Opera House, WEXFORD

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Die Entführung aus dem Serail

    Konstanze: Claudia Boyle
    Belmonte: Dean Power
    Blonde: Sarah Power
    Pedrillo: Andrew Gavin
    Osmin: Wojtek Gierlach
    Chorus: Irish National Opera
    Ensemble: Irish Chamber Orchestra

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    19:30 06 Dec 2020 University Concert Hall Limerick, LIMERICK

    WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Die Entführung aus dem Serail

    Konstanze: Claudia Boyle
    Belmonte: Dean Power
    Blonde: Sarah Power
    Pedrillo: Andrew Gavin
    Osmin: Wojtek Gierlach
    Chorus: Irish National Opera
    Ensemble: Irish Chamber Orchestra

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    07 Feb 20 'The Trials of Tenducci' Irish Baroque Orchestra & Tara Erraught
    National Gallery of Ireland

    “The fine sound of the ensemble, led by Whelan at the fortepiano, proves an excellent foil for the bloom and even coloratura of Erraught’s voice. […] Eclectic, surprising, and engaging, this lengthy programme is met with warm applause at the end, and the promise of a recording to follow.”

    Michael Lee, Golden Plec, 10 Feb 2020

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    30 Dec 19 Baroque Hogmanay Ensemble Marsyas
    Wigmore Hall

    “Ensemble Marsyas – very possibly this country’s finest period group – perform with wonderful élan, transmitting their total enjoyment. Led by Peter Whelan from one of the two harpsichords the group had on stage at Wigmore Hall, they produce a warm body of sound with a characterful edge where required, and certainly needed in music by Francesco Barsanti.”

    ★★★★☆

    Rupert Christiansen, Ivan Hewett & John Allison, The Telegraph, 31 Dec 19

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    12 Oct 19 Vivaldi: Griselda Irish National Opera & Irish Baroque Orchestra
    Town Hall Theatre, Galway

    “The music is by turns mercurial, sensitive, and brilliant, with Peter Whelan’s leadership drawing fine and natural performances from singers and Irish Baroque Orchestra instrumentalists alike.”

    Michael Lee, Golden Plec, 14 Oct 19

    “A second triumph is the way their singing is so naturally complemented by the conductor Peter Whelan and the Irish Baroque Orchestra: energy, emotion, baroque sound, not once masking voices.”

    Michael Dungan, Irish Times, 14 Oct 19

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    20 May 19 Mozart: The Magic Flute Irish National Opera
    National Opera House, Wexford

    “And the conductor and Baroque specialist Peter Whelan maximised its impact of delight, drawing from the Irish Chamber Orchestra the kind of crisp, zesty energy associated with period performance. It riveted you, and you sat there thinking, This feels like it’s going to be very good. And it was.”

    ★★★★☆

    Michael Duncan, The Irish Times, 20 May 19

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    11 Oct 18 Handel: Radamisto English Touring Opera
    Hackney Empire

    “The vivacious band is spiritedly conducted by Peter Whelan.”

    ★★★★☆

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 7 Oct 18

     

    “Under Peter Whelan’s direction the Old Street band gracefully speeds the action.”

    ★★★★☆
    Michael Church, The Independent, 8 Oct 18

     

    “Peter Whelan conducts with imaginative touches.”

    ★★★★☆

    Richard Morrison, The Times, 9 Oct 18

     

    “Peter Whelan conducts the Old Street Band with buoyant style.”

    ★★★☆☆

    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 11 Oct 18

     

    “The band is conducted stylishly from the harpsichord by Peter Whelan […]”

    ★★★☆☆

    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 11 Oct 18

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    24 Jul 18 Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice Irish National Opera
    Galway International Arts Festival

    “Conductor Peter Whelan, consistently attentive to the balance of voices and instruments, brought an intense, crisp energy to the stylish playing of the Irish Baroque Orchestra.”

    ★★★★☆

    Michael Dungan, The Irish Times, 24 July 18

     

    “The Irish Baroque Orchestra brings out the rich textures in Gluck’s score to cradle Orfeo’s grief. Conductor Peter Whelan’s timing is perfect and has plenty of personality.”

    Katy Hayes, The Independent, 29 July 18

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    22 Apr 18 Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro Irish National Opera
    Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

    “Conductor Peter Whelan’s command is perfectly pitched, with the orchestra’s comic timing occasionally uncannily well-judged, getting laughs all on its own. This is a packed evening’s first-rate entertainment; it runs the full three hours and 20, with every minute well spent.”

    Katy Hayes, The Independent, 22 April 18

     

    “He was abetted by conductor Peter Whelan, who coaxed fleet playing from the Irish Chamber Orchestra so that the action rarely dragged.”

    Hugh Canning, The Times, 22 April 18

Discography