BACH “Preis und Dank” from Easter Oratorio
HANDEL “Nel petto” from Parnasso in Festa
HANDEL “Overture” from Parnasso in Festa
MOZART Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425, “Linz” Minuet & Trio
MOZART Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425, “Linz” Finale (excerpt)
Matthew Halls on Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time
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The word “versatile” is an apt description for British conductor Matthew Halls. He first came to prominence as a keyboard player and early music conductor, but Halls is now better known for his dynamic and intelligent work with major symphony orchestras and opera companies, and for his probing and vibrant interpretations of music of all periods.
This season marks his fourth as Artistic Director of the Oregon Bach Festival, succeeding founding director Helmuth Rilling. Halls opened the 2016 festival with one of Bach’s most celebrated works, the Mass in B Minor, performed for the first time in the festival’s history on period instruments. Alongside works by Haydn, Schubert and Mendelssohn, the festival also saw Halls conduct the world premiere of Sir James MacMillan’s A European Requiem before closing the festival with another great choral work, Brahms’ A German Requiem. The Berwick Academy for Historically Informed Performance, launched under his leadership in 2015, provides a national training program for advanced students and now forms an integral part of the festival.
Increasingly in demand by North American symphony orchestras, Halls has performed with and makes frequent returns to the Cleveland Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and the Utah Symphony in repertoire from Bach and Handel to Mendelssohn, Messiaen, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Tippett. His debut with the Toronto Symphony, in which he led Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony “captured much of the energy and excitement that its first audience must have felt at its premiere nearly 200 years ago” (Toronto Star). He also led Washington, D.C.’s National Symphony in Handel’s Messiah and has returned to conduct works by Ravel, Dutilleux, Vaughan Williams, and Mendelssohn.
In 2016-17 Halls’ North American appearances include his New York debut at the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in a performance with Joshua Bell. He returns to the Lincoln Center later in the season, leading the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg as part of their United States tour. Other North American appearances include the Cleveland Orchestra; Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati Symphonies; Calgary Philharmonic; and residencies at the Universities of Oregon and Maryland.
European orchestras are equally eager to welcome Halls to their podiums. In spring 2014 he made a triumphant debut with Concentus Musicus Wien, substituting on short notice for Nikolaus Harnoncourt in an acclaimed performance of Haydn’s Seasons. He has also appeared with the Bergen Philharmonic, Berlin Konzerthausorchester, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the RTE National Symphony and the Tonkünstler Orchestra, also making regular appearances in Austria and on tour with the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. Further afield, Halls has performed in Australia with the Adelaide, Melbourne and West Australian Symphony Orchestras and in Russia with Musica Viva Moscow. With a re-invitation from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Halls spends a period in Australia again in 2017, also conducting the Auckland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. His European appearances this season include debuts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Symphony and the NDR Radiophilharmonie, and he returns once again to the Iceland Symphony.
In the opera house, Halls’ repertoire covers Renaissance, Baroque and Classical works, but also extends to later works, with a particular focus on Britten. His debut performances of Handel’s Rinaldo with Central City Opera Colorado were so well received that he was re-invited to conduct productions of Handel’s Amadigi and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. His associations with both the Netherlands Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper have included productions of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, Britten’s Peter Grimes and Bellini’s Norma. Other appearances have included the Handelfestspiele Halle and the Salzburg Landestheater. In spring 2014 he led Handel’s Ariodante at the Aalto-Musiktheater Essen and he returned last season to conduct Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.
Halls is represented on disc with Handel’s Parnasso in Festa, winner of the Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize, released by Hyperion. On Linn Records, he has recorded a set of four Bach Harpsichord Concertos conducted from the keyboard, which Gramophone welcomed as “joyful and invigorating”, and Bach’s Easter and Ascension oratorios, as well as award-winning discs of Purcell’s Sonatas in Three and Four Parts.
Matthew Halls was educated at Oxford University and subsequently taught at the university for five years. Passionately committed to education and working with young musicians, he regularly teaches at summer schools and courses.