D A V I D W A T K I N
B I O G R A P H Y
David Watkin brings to conducting decades of music making at the highest level. The breadth of his musical background – academic and practical, ‘early’ and modern, vocal and instrumental, symphonic and chamber – gives him a unique perspective.
David Watkin read Music at Cambridge, where he was a Choral Scholar, whilst studying the cello with William Pleeth and singing with Kenneth Bowen. He was a Shell/LSO Finalist, received the Bulgin Medal and was Principal cello in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
As a cellist he has made a wide range of acclaimed recordings including the Vivaldi Sonatas (Hyperion), Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante with OAE (Virgin) and Schubert’s Quintet with the Tokyo Quartet (hmusa). With pianist Howard Moody he has recorded Beethoven Sonatas (Chandos) and Francis Pott's 1996 Sonata (Guild). Their London debut in 1988 was described by The Times as ‘absolutely electrifying.’ They have since broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and performances have included the complete works for piano and cello by Beethoven at Wigmore Hall. He has been a soloist at Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York and performed the Schumann Concerto with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and ORR at Lincoln Center, New York. As a guest artist he has collaborated with, among others, Robert Levin, Alexander Janiczek and Fredericka von Stade.
Unaccompanied Bach has taken him all over Europe, from Bach’s birthplace in Eisenach to the Palace of Frederick the Great at Potsdam and the Prague Spring Festival, and featured in Sir John Eliot Gardiner's BBCTV programme “Bach: A Passionate Life”. He was a juror for the Leipzig Bach Competition.
As a founder member of the Eroica Quartet he has performed all over Europe and the US, including at Wigmore Hall, the Frick Collection, New York, and the Library of Congress, Washington. They have recorded to great acclaim the complete quartets of Mendelssohn and Schumann and a Beethoven disc (hmusa), the world premiere recording of Mendelssohn’s Octet original version and quartets by Debussy and Ravel (Resonus).
David Watkin has revived the eighteenth-century practice of realising figured bass (improvising chordal accompaniments) on the cello, using it as a ‘repetiteur’ instrument in Mozart Operas with Mackerras and SCO (DG) and OAE (Chandos), as well as in Corelli with Andrew Manze (hmusa) and John Holloway (Novalis). His writings about this and other aspects of music have been published by Early Music, The Strad and the Cambridge University Press volume Performing Beethoven.
As Principal Cello in some of the world’s leading ensembles - English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra - he has played a key role at the heart of some ground-breaking performances. As well as formal study of conducting on courses with George Hurst, Jorma Panula and Joseph Swensen, he has worked closely under, and received guidance from some of the leading conductors of the age. He has since conducted a wide range of repertoire from Bach and Handel to new commissions with groups including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Swedish Baroque Orchestra and the Academy of Ancient Music.
He is passionate about helping other musicians to discover the dynamic potential of harmonic awareness and performance practice and has conducted ensembles at the Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music, South Creek, Edinburgh University and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has led workshops on performance practice and harmonic awareness in performance for professional orchestras such as Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, English National Opera and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Also for teachers such as European String Teacher's Association, and for students, including at European Union Baroque Orchestra, Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Bern Hochschule. It was this wider interest in different performance styles and the joy of sharing this curiosity about music that sparked an interest in communicating through conducting.
In 2008 he directed the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in performances of Symphonies by Mozart and CPE Bach in Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Barbican, London, Konzerthaus, Vienna, Bregenz and Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels. He directed them again in a Vivaldi Concerto and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no 3 at City of London and St Magnus Festivals and on BBC Radio 3. He has directed OAE in performances and a recording of a Vivaldi Concerto (Linn). In 2009 he returned to SCO as director in a programme of Bach, Handel, Corelli and CPE Bach and directed the 20th Anniversary concert of the Swedish Baroque Orchestra. In 2011 he directed the Academy of Ancient Music at Festivals in Sptitalfields, Beverley and Gerberois In January 2012 he conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Haydn Symphonies no. 6,7 and 8. He was immediately invited back after conducting the Meadows Chamber Orchestra in Mozart's last and Beethoven's first symphonies. He has since conducted them in concerts featuring Brahms' 2nd and Beethoven's 5th and 6th Symphonies, and will return next year. After conducting The Manchester Consort in Bach's St Matthew Passion, he was appointed Principal Artist in Association.
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Date: Sept 2013