Laurence Cummings


"Cummings has emerged as one of his generation's leading baroque-era specialists, at home in both opera house and concert hall"

Larry Fuchsberg, Star Tribune

"Conductor Laurence Cummings sets about every number with almost breathless enthusiasm"

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

"Laurence Cummings's conducting is witty and compassionate..."

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

"Vivaciously conducted by Laurence Cummings. The performance had the infectious advocacy of Cummings and his orchestra"

Andrew Clark, Financial Times

"Graciously conducted by Laurence Cummings, it sounds good. The London Handel festival has done this work proud"

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

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Artistic Director International Handel Festival Göttingen
Musical Director London Handel Festival
Music Director Orquestra Barroca Casa da Musica

Laurence Cummings is one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance both as conductor and harpsichord player. He has been Musical Director of the London Handel Festival since 1999 and Artistic Director of the Internationale Händel-Festpiele Göttingen since 2012, as well as acting as Music Director for Orquestra Barroca Casa da Musica Porto. He is the William Crotch Professor of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music.

He has conducted productions for English National Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Buxton Festival Opera, Gothenburg Opera, Opernhaus Zurich, Opera de Lyon, Garsington Opera, English Touring Opera and at the Linbury Theatre Covent Garden. He regularly conducts the English Concert and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has worked with the Hallé, Bournemouth Symphony, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society (Boston), St Paul Chamber Orchestra (Minnesota), National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), Kansas City Symphony, Wiener Akademie, Musikcollegium Winterthur, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, and Basel Chamber Orchestra.

His numerous recordings include the first recording of Handel’s newly discovered Gloria with Emma Kirkby, and Handel Arias with Angelika Kirschlager and the Basel Chamber Orchestra for Sony BMG.

Highlights of the 2017/18 season include The Rake’s Progress at Wilton’s Music Hall, Saul at Theater an der Wien and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as well as collaborations with the Huddersfield Choral Society and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, together with his commitments at Casa da Musica in Porto and the London and Göttingen Handel Festivals.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.


Theater an der Wien (February 2017)

The Freiburger Barockorchester have been known to sometimes sound somewhat restrained, but conductor Laurence Cummings animates the orchestra to new differentiated levels

Peter Jarolin, Kurier

In the pit is the Freiburger Barockorchester under Laurence Cummings. The Handel Specialist enlivens the somewhat unusual score (with little bravura and few recapitulations). A glockenspiel, a surprisingly well-employed organ, plus natural horns, provide great atmosphere and dynamics. A truly dramatic plane arises from the many instrumental solos and accompagnati, which complements the staging wonderfully

Jörn Florian Fuchs, Badische Zeitung

Handel's rich, enriching, wonderful music is presented by the Freiburger Barockorchester under the direction of Laurence Cummings in a pleasurable and sensual way. In particular, the rich strings and the woodwind establish the juicy and powerful changing colours of sound

Stefan Ender, Der Standard

In the pit: Laurence Cummings and the Freiburger Barockorchester - an ideal team. Whether in the melodious overture, which counterpoints the upcoming calamity, the sweetness of the glockenspiel and harp, or in the swinging tutti passages, the Brit courageously reaches into Handel's treasure chest and always keeps in close contact with the stage. David McVicar will have to work hard on the 'Ariodante' at the State Opera, ditto William Christie on the podium, because his former assistant Cummings has set the bar enormously high

Michael Tschida, Kleine Zeitung

The Freiburger Barockorchester under Laurence Cummings provides a brilliant Handel sound. Magnificent colours, especially in the strings and the natural horns, organ sound, and the glockenspiel show the capabilities of this music. This is opera where everything is right

Susanne Zobl,

Handel's score, one of his richest orchestral and most colourful, is in excellent hands at the Theater an der Wien with the Freiberger Barockorchester under the English Handel expert Laurence beautifully the Freiburger Barockorchester perform these echo effects, how melodious is the dialogue spun between the oboes and violins, how vividly do the bassoons draw out their dark curves, before the illuminating strings return, how the harp and organ shine - this not only excites the ear, but also connects powerfully with the dramatic agenda

Walter Weldringer, Die Presse

Laurence Cummings at the Freiburger Barockorchester explored the numerous tonal colours of the work and proved himself an equal partner in the interplay between stage and pit, repeatedly igniting each other in drama and intensity

Judith Belfkih, Wiener Zeitung

Musically, the evening was in the hands of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra under Laurence Cummings, who impressively and passionately translated the extraordinarily colorful score with the utmost precision and absolute eloquence, thus laying the foundation for a fine ensemble of singers

Michael Wruss, öö Nachrichten

Laurence Cummings drives the flexible instrumentalists through bouncy rhythms without curtailing their freedom of phrasing. They breathe beautifully in the pit, with smooth, infinitely-variable dynamics. A Handel for intelligently sharpened ears, but also for enjoyment. "Saul" with soul

Klassiker Welt

The Rake's Progress

OperaGlass Works, Wilton's Music Hall (November 2017)

Laurence Cummings at the harpsichord, costumed as an arresting combination of Handel and Hogarth … led the players of the Southbank Sinfonia in a finely nuanced and detailed performance.

Henrietta Bredin, Opera Magazine

The Southbank Sinfonia is small – only one player to each string part – but stylish. The conductor is the baroque-music specialist Laurence Cummings, directing from the harpsichord and dressed in jacked and squishy velvet cap to look alarmingly like Handel. He paces things snappily and, as the evening progresses, increasingly gets in on the action.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian

[...]this period-dress production scored in other ways. The interplay between art and life, artifice and truth, for instance. Laurence Cummings directs the spirited Southbank Sinfonia on stage, initially sporting a resplendent wig that would have made Handel jealous.

Rebecca Franks, The Times

Occupying the rear of the stage – and sometimes engaged in the action – are the Southbank Sinfonia and conductor-harpsichordist Laurence Cummings, a Handel expert splendidly costumed as George Frideric himself. The warm Wilton’s acoustic takes some Stravinskian edge off the instrumental sound, but it shows off the singers – and their words – to ideal effect

Yehuda Shapiro, The Stage

A costumed Laurence Cummings entered into the spirit with some baguette banter and a sure hand on the musical tiller (two on the harpsichord), although why the polished Southbank Sinfonia was not similarly decked in Hanoverian attire is a puzzle.

Mark Valencia, Whatsonstage

Lucio Silla

Buxton International Festival 2017

The English Concert, under Lawrence Cummings, played beautifully.

Anthony Arblaster, Opera Now

A major asset is the stylish and sharply defined playing of The English Concert in the pit, while conductor Laurence Cummings superintends a performance with plenty of musical and dramatic clout.

George Hall, The Stage

Terrific playing from the English Concert under Laurence Cummings’s stylish direction.

Richard Morrison, The Times

the English Concert were on superb form throughout under the experienced direction of Laurence Cummings – proving yet again that the principal prerequisite of a fine evening at the opera isn’t the singers but an exceptional orchestra and conductor.

David Mellor, Daily Mail


London Handel Festival 2017

Laurence Cummings’ stylish conducting leaves us in no doubt as to the quality of the score, which contains some of Handel’s most striking music. It all makes for cool, clever and deeply unnerving entertainment.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Laurence Cummings’s London Handel Orchestra sounds sprightly and stylish in a score with many awkward corners

Richard Morrison, The Times

Orchestral playing was excellent under the always lively Laurence Cummings

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Handel’s Messiah

National Symphony Orchestra - Washington (December 2016)

he certainly showed himself to be a major Handelian in this fluid, fleet, fine-feelinged reading.

Washington Post


Göttingen Handel Festival (May 2016)

…thanks to Cummings’ perfect pacing and the infectiously catchy phrasing he draws from his excellent orchestra and cast.

Shirley Apthorp, The Financial Times ****

Laurence Cummings has spent a career with this music, and his affection, understanding and excitement radiates out through the dancing energy of his instrumentalists and the emotional pitch of his singers.

Alexandra Coghlan, The Spectator


London Handel Festival (March 2016)

As always, the strength of the festival’s opera offerings is found down in the orchestra pit, where Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra broughtAriodante to life with vitality and emotional depth.

Richard Fairman, The Financial Times

King Arthur

Opernhaus Zurich (February 2016)

The Overture had a completely different tint: led by Laurence Cummings, La Scintilla Orchestra played it with the warmth and
softness that makes Purcell’s music come alive.

Susanne Kübler, Tages Anzeiger


Göttingen Handel Festival (May 2015)

Good though the singers are, they are almost eclipsed by the vivid, virtuosic Festival Orchestra. Laurence Cummings keeps rollickingly on track, with unflagging energy and musicality. Well worth the journey.

Shirley Apthorp, The Financial Times ****

Laurence Cummings, artistic director of the festival, had lot of fun with the interpretation of this material. Even in the famous overture to his FestspielOrchester did out: Both the tremolos and the unexpected pause in which Handel the dissolution of a final cadence is guilty and subsequently supply only a few bars later, took his ensemble with sensitivity and playfulness.

Jonas Rohde, Goettinger Tageblatt

Giove in Argo

London Handel Festival (March 2015)

Conducted by Laurence Cummings, it sounds terrific.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian ****

What it does have, however, are excellent musical values. In the pit Laurence Cummings presides over an orchestra that scampers stylishly through Handel’s jaw-droppingly inventive arias.

Richard Morrison, The Times ****

The Indian Queen

English National Opera (February 2015)

With outstanding soloists, with the ENO chorus in coruscating form, and with Laurence Cummings and his period instrumentalists generating transcendent beauty in the pit, this is an evening in musical heaven.

Michael Church, The Independent *****

Stylishly conducted by Laurence Cummings.

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph ****

The ENO Orchestra under Laurence Cummings delivered Purcell’s score with the ideal balance of refinement and drama.

Owen Mortimer, Opera Now

The Coronation of Poppea

Opera North (October 2014)

Opera North’s gripping new production…. The stage and musical directors, Tim Albery and Laurence Cummings, have devised a bare-essentials edition of Monteverdi’s last opera (first seen in Venice in 1643), an apotheosis of lust and lust for power that seems bang up to date… great ensemble achievements.

Hugh Canning, Sunday Times


Glyndebourne on Tour (October 2015)

The theatricality of Handel’s score knocks the wind from your lungs. The conductor Laurence Cummings has galvanised Glyndebourne’s touring orchestra into a performance as playful and soulful and stylish as that on stage: acerbic in the opening allegro of the Overture, giddy with invention in the miniature concertos for chamber organ, the musical arguments dynamically phrased and punctuated throughout.

Anna Picard, The Times *****

As artistic director both of the London Handel festival and the Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen, he now ranks as one of the composer’s best advocates in the world. Self-effacing on the podium, faithful above all to the score, he matches Handel’s energy and invention with unmistakable lyricism, generosity and dignity. It’s not that others don’t or can’t; rather that Cummings makes it feel the only conceivable approach, drawing the music out, not driving it along.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer *****

Laurence Cummings Repertoire


La Guiditta
La Spinalba


B Minor Mass
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and No. 5
Cantatas 36c & 61
St John Passion
St. Matthew Passion


St. Nicholas


Rap. di Anima e di Corpo


The Judgement of Paris


Aci, Gallatea e Polifemo
Alexander Balus
Duetti amorosi
Giulio Cesare
Israel in Eqypt
Riccardo Primo


Incoronazione di Poppea
Vespers of 1610


King Arthur
The Fairy Queen


Les Palladins (Suite)


L'incoronazione di Dario
La Verita in Cimento

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