David Murphy; music director

Hailed as “one of the most exciting and original artists of his generation” conductor and musical pioneer David Murphy has garnered an international reputation for his cutting edge musicianship and the breadth and depth of his artistry.

His pioneering musicianship has resulted in many landmark world premiere performances. These include Symphony created with Pandit Ravi Shankar. This was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in 2010 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the bestselling CD issued on the LPO live label in 2012, both to tremendous critical acclaim. “Performed by the London Philharmonic under David Murphy it’s a resounding triumph” (Independent 5 Stars). 

A champion of British music, David has recently given the London Premiere of Indra by Gustav Holst with the Philharmonia Orchestra (2012), the European Premiere of the same work with the Residentie Orkest, and the Polish premiere of Elgar/Payne Symphony No. 3.

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David Murphy also gave the world Premiere of Samaagam created with Indian sarod legend Amjad Ali Khan. This work was premiered at the St Magnus and City of London Festivals with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. David and the SCO subsequently toured the UK and India with Samaagam alongside works by Mozart and Beethoven and went into the studio to record the work for Harmonia Mundi/World Village. The critically acclaimed recording was released in 2011. David’s pioneering projects with the greatest masters of Indian classical music enable him to shed a fresh new light on Western Classical music – giving his work a global perspective.

David Murphy is also a specialist in the music of Mozart and Beethoven, his love of these composers honed by his studies as an instrumentalist with the Amadeus Quartet. He has conducted much original research into their works: “David has made some valuable discoveries, particularly in reference to certain peculiarities of Beethoven’s notation which significantly alter one’s preconceptions of interpretation of this and other composers” Sir Charles Mackerras

His many operatic projects have included Savitri by Gustav Holst, performed with the London Sinfonietta. He began his operatic work as assistant to Sir Charles Mackerras at both English National Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Royal Opera House is integral to his most significant operatic project to date: with Anoushka Shankar and librettist Amit Chaudhuri he is currently working on the completion of the groundbreaking new opera Sukanya begun with Pandit Ravi Shankar. Performances of this work are planned from the 2015/16 season.

He is a highly experienced Musical Director, having held this position with the virtuoso chamber orchestra Sinfonia Verdi since 1990. His work takes him to the world’s finest orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Residentie Orkest, Britten Sinfonia and the London Sinfonietta.

Born in Pembrokeshire on the west coast of Wales, David began his musical studies as a violinist. Within a few months of study he had won a local music competition and was subsequently awarded a full scholarship to the internationally renowned specialist music school, the Purcell School. The influence of legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin during this time sparked his interest in Indian Classical music along with yoga and Indian philosophy.

David Murphy went on to be an award-winning student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he studied violin, viola and chamber music with members of the Amadeus String Quartet. During this time, David performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout Britain and Europe and his eclectic musical education also included baroque and classical violin with Catherine Mackintosh.

His conducting debut occurred at a moment’s notice. The experience was a revelation and prompted the decision to undertake full time conducting study, beginning at Tanglewood with Gustav Meier and Seiji Ozawa.

He completed his studies with one of the greatest conductors and pedagogues of the twentieth century: Leon Barzin. David had the great privilege to be Barzin’s last student, living and studying intensively with him during the summers Barzin spent in Europe from 1993 until his death in 1999. Through this relationship David is fortunate enough to have a direct link to the great conductors of the early Twentieth Century, notably both Toscanini and Furtwängler and also the great violinist Ysaÿe – a training unique for a conductor of his generation.

Two other legendary mentors were subsequently central to his development as a musician: the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and the sitar maestro and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar. David’s music-making contains a unique blend of these very potent influences: from Barzin the musical philosophy and techniques of the “golden age” of conducting, from Sir Charles Mackerras cutting-edge scholarship, and from Pandit Ravi Shankar the spontaneous creativity and spiritual perspective of Indian music. David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.