A musician with a wide-ranging international career, British conductor and organist Michael Bawtree has directed the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Red Note Ensemble, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and many performances for Scottish Ballet, Northern Ballet and Raymond Gubbay Ltd across the British Isles. For seven years, he was Assistant Music Director of the Lyrique-en-Mer summer opera festival in Brittany.
He is Principal Conductor of John Armitage Memorial (JAM), a trust promoting the commissioning and performance of new music. For thirteen seasons Bawtree has been Chorus Director of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union and Music Director of Glasgow Chamber Choir. He has also worked with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, the RSNO chorus and toured with other choirs across Europe, North America, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include concerts in Australia, India, Sweden, Holland, Germany, the Faroe Islands and France. He conducted the RSNO at the Commonwealth Games Games’ Celebration concert and at recent Hogmanay Gala concerts in Glasgow. He made his debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015 conducting Mozart’s Requiem with the London Philharmonic Choir.
Bawtree spent the summer of 2014 living in Mumbai, directing a choral project with 250 children from all walks of life: slum children sang alongside the most privileged on the stage of the National Centre for the Performing Arts. In September 2015, he travelled to Brisbane to direct a choral project at the Queensland Conservatorium. A keen advocate of contemporary music, Bawtree has conducted many premieres and works regularly with Scotland’s foremost composers including the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Paul Mealor, Sir James MacMillan, Thea Musgrave and Sally Beamish.
Michael Bawtree studied music and the organ at Christ’s College, Cambridge University, and conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. As organist and continuo player, he has performed with the London Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Scottish National and Scottish Chamber Orchestras including concerts at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the BBC Proms, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Audi Summer Concerts festival in Bavaria. Organ recital invitations have taken Bawtree to all the major British cathedrals, Westminster Abbey, Auckland Town Hall, Notre-Dame de Paris, Washington National Cathedral and across the USA and Scandinavia.
Morley Whitehead studied at the Royal College of Music, London, where his teachers included the late Herbert Howells. During his time there, he was a multiple prize-winner at both the Associateship and Fellowship diploma examinations of the Royal College of Organists, and was also awarded the Silver Medal of The Worshipful Company of Musicians.
He moved to Edinburgh in 1979, upon being appointed Assistant Organist at St Giles’ Cathedral, a post he held for over 10 years. He became accompanist to ERCU in September 1980. In 1991, he left the High Kirk to become Organist & Choirmaster at (what is now) Morningside Parish Church, where he remains in post; and in 2015 became Organist at the Thistle Foundation’s Robin Chapel, where every Sunday afternoon he accompanies the semi-professional choir in their singing of a fully choral service.
In addition to his work with ERCU, Morley has been and continues to be accompanist and organist to a number of Edinburgh’s choirs: Waverley Singers, Edinburgh Grand Opera, Opera Camerata, and Colinton Community Choir, as well as undertaking any amount of freelance accompanying in and around the city – he is “regular” organist to Edinburgh Bach Choir, “Cadenza”, St Andrew Camerata, Queen Margaret University, Open University in Scotland, Dundee Choral Union, etc. He is also in demand as a solo recitalist, and has recently played in all three of the city’s cathedrals, as well as (in February last) St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London (a church with a long and illustrious musical tradition, and where, during his student years, he acted as assistant organist.)
Alongside all this playing, Morley has for many years looked after the very fine Reid Music Library of Edinburgh University – which work he continues to enjoy, despite the necessity of having had to come to grips, in recent years, with all manner of technological innovations (!)
Morley has featured from time to time in broadcasts, on both television and radio (most recently on Radio 4’s morning service), and is accompanist on Edinburgh choir “Cadenza”’s recently published CD, “Bright Star”, a compilation of Christmas carols, but with a Scottish flavour.
Martyn Brabbins is Music Director of the English National Opera. An inspirational force in British music, Brabbins has had a busy opera career since his early days at the Kirov and more recently at La Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and regularly in Lyon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Antwerp. He is a popular figure at the BBC Proms and with most of the leading British orchestras, and regularly visits top international orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw, DSO Berlin and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony (all of whom he conducted last season).
Known for his advocacy of British composers, he has also conducted hundreds of world premieres across the globe. He has recorded over 120 CDs to date, including prize-winning discs of operas by Korngold, Birtwistle and Harvey. He was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005, Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic 2009-2015, Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic 2012-2016, and Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007. He is currently Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music and Music Director to the Huddersfield Choral Society alongside his duties at ENO, and has for many years supported professional, student and amateur music-making at the highest level in the UK.
In 2017/18 at English National Opera Brabbins conducts the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie and a revival of Marriage of Figaro – his first productions as Music Director. He launches a Vaughan Williams symphonic cycle with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican (and recorded for Hyperion) and tours Holland with the BBC Scottish Symphony, with whom he continues his Tippett symphony cycle at the Glasgow City Halls and also for Hyperion. He celebrates the London Sinfonietta’s 50th birthday at the Southbank, and conducts the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Holland Festival 2018. In Summer 2017 he conducts Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with the Philharmonia at Three Choirs and he also conducts the final concert of the Edinburgh International Festival with the BBC Scottish Symphony.
Brabbins’ extensive discography ranges from Romantic to contemporary repertoire. He won the Gramophone Award for Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus with the BBC Symphony (NMC), the Cannes Opera Award for Korngold's Die Kathrin with the BBC Concert Orchestra (CPO), and the Grand Prix du Disque in the 2013 opera category for his recording of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream.
He studied composition in London and conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, subsequently winning first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors' Competition, launching his international career.