Nicholas McGegan

Conductor

"The performance was outstanding, with the SCO alert and responsive to McGegan throughout"

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

"Nicholas McGegan can always be relied upon to awaken fresh thoughts in music from the Baroque or classical periods"

Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman

"McGegan presided with genial vigor, encouraging and enjoying the extravagance"

Matthew Guerrieri, Boston Globe

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Music Director Philharmonia Baroque
Principal Guest Conductor Pasadena Symphony Orchestra

As he embarks on his sixth decade on the podium, Nicholas McGegan — long hailed as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation” (The Independent) — is recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods. The 2019/20 season marks the final year of his 34-year tenure as Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony.

Best known as a baroque and classical specialist, McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale as one of the world’s leading period-performance ensembles.

Nicholas McGegan’s ability to engage players and audiences alike has made him a pioneer in broadening the reach of historically informed practice beyond the world of period ensembles to conventional symphonic forces. His guest-conducting appearances with major orchestras — including the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; the Chicago, Dallas, Utah, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Toronto, Sydney, and New Zealand Symphonies; the Philadelphia Orchestra; the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestras; and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw — often feature Baroque repertoire alongside Classical, Romantic, 20th-century and even brand-new works. He was Artistic Director at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2001) and Principal Guest Conductor at Scottish Opera in the 1990s.

His discography includes more than 100 releases. His recordings with PBO have received two GRAMMY nominations and a Gramophone Award. His other recordings include more than 20 recordings with Hungary’s Capella Savaria and two recent albums with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under the BIS label.

His 19/20 guest appearances in North America include his return to the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Houston, Baltimore, St. Louis, New Jersey, and Pasadena Symphonies. He also resumes his long tradition of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. Outside of the US, McGegan leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and makes guest appearances with the Szczecin and Wroclaw Philharmonics. Summer festivals include Aspen and La Jolla. Finally, he visits the Juilliard School to conduct multiple concerts in New York and takes one of those programs, Handel’s Rinaldo, abroad to Göttingen.

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Early Horn Concertos (CD)

Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Alec Frank-Gemmill (BIS)

Nicholas McGegan is equally at home in this repertory, meanwhile. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra play with wonderful freshness and finesse, and there’s a flawless sense of ensemble between Frank-Gemmill and the solo strings in the Sinfonia da camera. An exceptional disc.

Tim Ashley, Gramophone

This is an outstanding collection, in which Frank-Gemmill’s stratospheric virtuosity, on three different instruments, is elegantly counterpointed by Nicholas McGegan’s buoyantly sympathetic direction.

Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine

La Gloria di primavera (CD)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Nicholas McGegan leads his chorus and period orchestra in nicely polished, stylistically assured performances

George Loomis, Opera Magazine

The Seven Ages of Shakespeare with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

Birmingham Symphony Hall, June 2016

If any conductor can make a programme like this fly, it’s Nicholas McGegan. [...] He opened Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor overture with a radiant sweep of sound, drawing the string tone up from the basses with a batonless wave of the hand, then bouncing up and down like he was mounted on springs as the Allegro hurtled away. [...] Sullivan’s bubbly Merchant of Venice suite was cut down to a mere three movements, and McGegan positively supercharged them. [...] McGegan [...] can hold an audience breathless. [...] McGegan, beaming with enjoyment and looking at times as if he was about to start bodypopping, draped violin lines artlessly over Purcell’s [excerpts from The Fairy Quuen] melancholy plaints, detonated volleys of trumpets and timpani, and shaped big, dramatic dynamic contrasts.

Richard Bratby, theartsdesk.com

Haydn, Mozart and Leclair with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

City Halls Glasgow, January 2016

I have never known conductor Nicholas McGegan turn out a dull, lifeless or routine performance with an orchestra. It’s simply not in his nature. He’s a dynamo, a true animator, an energiser and an ignition point from which music can take off and take wing. McGegan and his orchestra, absolutely flying and in terrific form, roared through Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus and a fabulous account of Haydn’s Military Symphony, with nice musical control of the seismic percussiveness that can be too-easily overwhelming.

The Herald

It required a change in game plan for an orchestra more used to the opulence of later music, evident in a scaled-down string section that embraced the required style – clean, gutsy playing from front desk to back that gave buoyancy and precision, in particular to Haydn’s Symphony No 100 (the Military), which oozed wit, theatre and charisma. Thrusting exuberance ignited the percussive eccentricities of the Haydn symphony, and brought thrills and spills to Jean-Marie Leclair’s music from Scylla et Glaucus, tightly packaged in McGegan’s own concert arrangement.

The Scotsman

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Chorus

The Sage Gateshead, April 2015

Conductor Nicholas McGegan's gestures were economic, but each counted as he kept an eye on the bigger picture [...] It was a breathtaking performance that fulfilled every expectation.

Gavin Engelbrecht, The Northern Echo

Mozart at the Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles Philharmonic

McGegan kept the all-Mozart concept fresh by dipping into some relatively underexposed territory in Mozart's vast catalog, investing everything with the zesty tempos and life-affirming spirits for which he is known.

Richard S. Ginell, The Los Angeles Times

Vivaldi, Piazzola and Handel at the Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles Philharmonic

McGegan, who makes everything he conducts look as if it's more fun than anything, simply jumped in, and Chalifour and the small string orchestra had no choice but to follow.

Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times

Handel Acis and Galatea (arr. by Mozart)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Mr. McGegan and the Philharmonia forces were a constant source of life and sensuous colour.

Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times

Under the rousing direction of Nicholas McGegan, [Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's] glorious rendering of the music, with a terrific assist from the Philharmonia Chorale, had us transfixed throughout.

Carla Escoda, The Huffington Post

The enormous pleasure of this production is in the effusively engaging conducting of McGegan and his fine period instrument orchestra and chorus.

Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times

Beethoven Symphonies No. 4, Op. 60 & No. 7 Op. 92 (PBP06)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Those similarities are brilliantly brought out by Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra of San Francisco, in performances that nicely take note of period practice using original instruments without labouring the point... McGegan, British-born and –trained, who has made his mark in the US and elsewhere, seems intent on presenting each work without too much interference or idiosyncratic underlining.

Edward Greenfield, Gramophone Magazine

…these freshly minted and energetic readings of two Beethoven symphonies fare altogether better. McGegan understands that for all outwardly jubilant character, this music has a tensile strength and rigour about it. That essential seriousness of intent registers powerfully in his watchful textural layering during the introduction, where dynamic shading is also excellently managed. It is McGegan’s rhythmic exactitude and alertness that often brings that description fully to life in this engaging and athletic performance. Advocates of authentic performance practice should find much to admire in McGegan’s fresh-faced, vital readings.

Michael Jameson, International Record Review

Messiah

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Handel would utilize whatever forces were available when performing his Messiah and likely to have an orchestra of the size so expertly directed by Nicholas McGegan here.

McGegan’s balancing act was so astutely deployed that the BSO were never compromised, all solo accompaniments beautifully poised.

Bournemouth Echo

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