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Rory Macdonald

A dynamic presence in both the opera house and concert hall, Rory Macdonald’s conducting combines intellectual rigour with passionate engagement. With a notably wide repertoire from Dowland to MacMillan, his collegiate approach has led to many successful collaborations with leading artists and production teams.

Recent highlights include La Bohème for Glyndebourne which resulted in an immediate re-invitation as well as returns to Oper Frankfurt (Le Nozze di Figaro) and Opera Theater of Saint Louis (The Magic Flute). In the last few seasons he has returned regularly to the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others, as well as making successful debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Romeo Castellucci’s staging of Requiem at the Adelaide Festival and Peter Grimes at the Brisbane Festival. Rory returns to the US for several symphonic debuts in the 2024/2025 season. Passionate about new music, Rory has conducted the premieres of works by composers including Sally Beamish, Sir James MacMillan, Geoffrey Gordon and Carl Vine. 

Other recent symphonic engagements include the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal, Residentie Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra and Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rory made his debut with Oper Frankfurt in 2018/19 with Così fan tutte and has conducted new productions of Die Zauberflöte for Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Royal Danish Opera and Opera Australia. Other highlights include a return to Gothenburg Opera for Stephen Langridge’s production of Le nozze di Figaro;  Hänsel und Gretel; Il barbiere di Siviglia (Royal Opera House); Fra Diavolo (Teatro dell’Opera di Roma); Carmen (Santa Fe Opera, Canadian Opera, Teatro São Carlos); Ariadne aux Naxos (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); The Cunning Little Vixen (Bergen National Opera); La Fanciulla del West (Grange Park Opera) and A Village Romeo and Juliet (Wexford Festival). ​

He has led many acclaimed productions of works by Britten, including new productions of Owen Wingrave and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Royal Opera House; Albert Herring for Glyndebourne; The Turn of the Screw with Mark Padmore at the Vienna Konzerthaus; A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and The Rape of Lucretia at Houston Grand Opera.

Rory’s discography includes Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Nicola Benedetti for Decca as well as highly acclaimed discs for Hyperion, Chandos and Linn Records. Two further discs are due for release later this year with the RSNO including works by Anna Clyne and James MacMillan.

Rory studied music at Cambridge University. Whilst there he studied under David Zinman and Jorma Panula at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. After graduating from Cambridge, he was appointed assistant conductor to Iván Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra (2001-2003), and to Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra (2006-2008). He was also a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House (2004-2006), where he worked closely with Sir Antonio Pappano on such major projects as the complete Ring cycle.

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