Nicholas McGegan


"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

Described by The Independent as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation”, Nicholas McGegan was educated at Cambridge, Oxford and RAM. In his capacity as Music Director of San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque he has established the group as the leading period band in America. He was artistic director at the International Handel Festival Göttingen 1991 - 2011. He is also the Principal Guest Conductor of Pasadena Symphony.

Active in opera as well as the concert hall, he has been Principal Guest Conductor of Scottish Opera and Principal Conductor of Sweden’s 18th Century theatre in Drottingholm, running the annual festival there. He has been a pioneer in the process of exporting historically informed practice beyond the world of period instruments to wider conventional symphonic forces, guest-conducting with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, Concertgebouw, Royal Scottish National, BBC Scottish Symphony, Scottish Chamber, Royal Northern Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, Halle, RTÉ National Symphony and the symphony orchestras of Toronto, Montreal and Sydney. Opera companies he works with include Royal Opera House Covent Garden, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington. He has broken new ground in experimental dance-collaborations with Mark Morris, notably at festivals like Edinburgh International and Ravinia.

His discography of over 100 releases includes the world premiere recording of Handel’s Susanna, which attracted both a Gramophone Award and Grammy nomination. Among his other rediscoveries is the first performance in modern times of Handel’s masterly but mislaid Gloria.

Recent highlights include conducting the BBC Proms’ first prom outside of London since the 1930s and the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion, co-commissioned by the OAE and the Philharmonia Baroque. In 2018/19 he returns to conduct the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and appears with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, the NDR Radiophilharmonie, and with the MDR-Sinfonieorchester at MDR Musiksommer.

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

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,

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


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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