Laurence Cummings

Conductor

"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

"Laurence Cummings turns even the rawest musical material into gold"

Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine

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

Andrew Clark, Financial Times

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Music Director Academy of Ancient Music
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 a conductor and a harpsichord player. He is currently Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, Musical Director of the London Handel Festival, and Music Director of Orquestra Barroca Casa da Música in Porto. A noted authority on Handel, the Guardian has written of him “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.”

Frequently praised for his stylish and compelling performances in the opera house, his career has taken him across Europe where he has conducted productions at houses including Opernhaus Zurich (Belshazzar, King Arthur), Theater an der Wien (Saul), Gothenburg Opera (Orfeo ed Euridice, Giulio Cesare, Alcina and Idomeneo). Théâtre du Châtelet (Saul) and Opera de Lyon (Messiah). In the UK he has been a regular at English National Opera (Radamisto, L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Semele, Messiah, Orfeo and The Indian Queen), Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Saul, Giulio Cesare and The Fairy Queen) and Garsington Opera (Vivaldi cycle: L’Incoronazione di Dario, L’Olympiade and La Verita in Cimento), as well as conducting at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre (Berenice and Alceste), Opera North (L’Incoronazione di Poppea), Buxton International Festival (Tamerlano and Mozart’s Lucio Silla) and for Opera GlassWorks (The Rake’s Progress). The 2020/21 season saw his last edition of the Internationale Händel-Festpiele Göttingen, where he was Artistic Director for ten years.

Equally at home on the concert platform, he is regularly invited to conduct both period and modern instrument orchestras worldwide, including Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, Handel and Haydn Society Boston, Croatian Baroque Orchestra, La Scintilla Zurich, Juilliard 415, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Musikcollegium Winterthur, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Washington National Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Jerusalem Symphony and in the UK with Royal Northern Sinfonia, Hallé Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

His recordings include discs with Emma Kirkby and Royal Academy of Music on BIS, Angelika Kirschlager and the Basel Chamber Orchestra for Sony BMG, Maurice Steger and The English Concert for Harmonia Mundi and Ruby Hughes and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on Chandos, as well as a series of live opera and concert performances recorded at the Göttingen International Handel Festival and released on Accent. He has also released numerous solo harpsichord recital and chamber music recordings for Naxos.

He was an organ scholar at Christ Church Oxford where he graduated with first class honours. Until 2012 he was Head of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music which led to both baroque and classical orchestras forming part of the established curriculum. He is now the William Crotch Professor of Historical Performance.

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Orfeo

Garsington Opera, Summer 2022

Cummings opts for a beguilingly lush wash of continuo from five different musicians, and splits his instrumental forces effectively on either side of the stage, but his main achievement is ensuring his singers constantly invest their lines with emotional significance as well as stylish ornamentation. It’s all bewitching [...].

Richard Morrison, The Times 5*

The true vocal pillars of this piece are, inescapably, the tenor Ed Lyon in the title role, and the ever active chorus, with its multiple brief solos, including at one point from the conductor Laurence Cummings. [...] Cummings, directing from the harpsichord, and his English Concert musicians, played on stage throughout, sporting similar white and cream clothes to the dancers, and joining the staging at times.

Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 5*

[The staging] allows for the musical freedom Cummings draws without actually conducting [...] With Cummings stepping away from the harpsichord to sing Apollo’s intervention and joining the Monteverdi madrigal sung as an encore, this is an evening of true ensemble work.

John Allison, The Telegraph, 4*

The dynamic and barefoot English Concert is on stage, its players in the heart of the action. Laurence Cummings directing this pulsating score from the keyboard even sings as Orfeo's father in the closing moments.

Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 5*

Handel's La Resurrezione

St-Martin-in-the-Fields, London 18th April 2022

Cummings proved an exacting judge of the sometimes tricky balance between drama and reflection, teasing out instrumental detail as he went – the woodwind that alternately grieve and console, the warmth in the strings, the gleam in the brass that eventually heralds the triumph of light over darkness.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian ****

"Laurence Cummings had rustled up eight violins rather than Handel's 20, but this still sounded meaty and wonderful in the airy acoustic of St Martin in the Fields... The first half has unstoppable energy thanks to Cummings, bouncing with excitement as he urged his musicians on."

Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now 5*

Alcina

Opera North, Spring 2022

Laurence Cummings encourages really stylish, sensuous musicianship from the Opera North orchestra (he’s also on cracking harpsichord duty)

Neil Fisher, The Times

Laurence Cummings choosing perfect tempos and dynamic contrasts. The score is Handel at his most melodious and subtle, with many passages for small groups of instruments or even solo instruments, and under Cummings the small orchestra plays beautifully

Ron Simpson, The Reviews Hub

Cummings draws colourful, energised playing from a pared-down orchestra

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

Laurence Cummings was stylish in is conducting from the harpsichord

Opera Magazine

Haydn's Creation

Academy of Ancient Music, September 2021

Delectable timbres and colours didn't stop leaping from Cummings's expert band, who played with such vigour

Geoff Brown, The Times

Cummings kept his temp lively (as did Haydn, it appears) and drew some thrillingly tight and fierce choruses from the choir behind. This Creation glinted and shone in a bracingly clear light

Boyd Tonkin, theartsdesk

Rodelinda

Göttingen Handel Festival, September 2021 / Release on Accent (ACC26416)

With the Festival Orchestra, Laurence Cummings proves that Handel's music is in the best of hands here. The different moods are worked out with absolute precision, also with tempo variations, and make it possible to understand why this work was so celebrated by the audience at the premiere

Thomas Molke, Online Musik Magazin

the extraordinary interpretation by Cummings that dissects the score, enhancing every nuance of color: the palette of feelings transformed into music

Franco Soda, Giornale della musica

CD Review:Cummings, a seasoned and sensitive Handelian, directs his first-rate period band with a vivid sense of colour, character and dramatic situation”

Richard Wigmore, Gramophone

Handel's Messiah

April 2021

Laurence Cummings is an experienced Handel conductor, and ENO’s orchestra played neatly and stylishly

Tristram Kenton, The Times

Saul

Théâtre du Châtelet, Jan 2020

Conducted by the British Laurence Cummings, who also seizes a pivoting organ in the middle of the stage at the opening of the second part, the musicians excel, whether in the clarity of the tutti or in the intimacy of a speech between lutes or theorbos.

Guillaume Tion, Libération

In the pit, we are surprised to find the Talens Lyriques without Christophe Rousset. Baroque orchestras so embody the figure of their founder that the culture of the guest conductor is little developed. However, the alchemy with the English Laurence Cummings has visibly taken a quarter turn: under its galvanized direction, the orchestra with the plethoric workforce sounds of the fire of God, with a very British majesty, but also a magnitude, a brilliant and a tone that we are not always used to hearing from a baroque orchestra. Electrifying evening for a delirious room: it feels good.

Christian Merlin, Le Figaro

Added to this is the expert and skilled management (with a few additions here and there in the score) of Laurence Cummings, a renowned Haendelian who, for the occasion, happily takes over Lyric Talents from Christophe Rousset.

Nicolas Blanmont, La Libre Belgique

The choir, composed for the occasion, displays flamboyant energy, as does the Les Talens Lyriques orchestra, to which Haendel has reserved one of his most sumptuous scores, under the enthusiastic direction of Laurence Cummings.

Philippe Venturini, Les Echos

We felt a similar fear for Les Talens Lyriques whose last Haendelian interpretations poured into a precious meticulousness to which we are allergic. Led by a lion-like Laurence Cummings, the 42 musicians in the pit make this music roar with a consummate sense of grandiose, a fleshy continuous bass and a remarkable synchronization with the scene.

Guillaume Saintagne, Forum Opera

Director of the Handel Festival in Göttigen, specialist in ancient instruments and at the desk of the most prestigious operas, Laurence Cummings is undoubtedly at home in the Handelian universe. Under the expert baton, the ample gestures and the motivating looks of the British conductor, the orchestra pushes the excitement to its peak while delicately supporting the poetry of lamentations. Cummings provides the organ part, which requires a lot of virtuosity.

Claire de Oliveira, Olyrix

Belshazzar

Zürich Opera, November 2019

All the more pleasing is what comes out of the raised orchestra pit. Under Laurence Cummings La Scintilla makes expressive and colorful music. The proven Baroque specialist lets the orchestra speak, sing, dance, flare individual lines, others sound brittle and pale. Always in line with the text.

Bruno Rauch, ch-intercultur

Baumgarten has strong allies. Above all, the conductor Laurence Cummings, who creates a highly emotional, highly concentrated performance with the Orchestra La Scintilla.

Susanne Kübler, Tages Anzeiger

Laurence Cummings on the podium of the orchestra La Scintilla moves with flowing tempos and clear articulation at the height of today's Handel interpretation

Christian Wildhagen, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“Orchestra La Scintilla”, conducted by Handel specialist Laurence Cummings, captivates the late Baroque affect rhetoric and sends a multitude of colours into the sound space

Torbjörn Bergflödt, Südkurier

Berenice

Linbury Theatre Royal Opera House Covent Garden / London Handel Festival (March 2019)

And the staging also incorporates the instrumentalists, with three continuo players on stage and occasionally drawn into the merry pranks. That makes Laurence Cummings’s achievement in holding together the music from the pit all the more impressive. His pacing of Handel’s ear-tickling tunes is impeccable.

Richard Morrison, The Times

the London Handel Orchestra under Cummings's direction plays with quintessential Baroque grace and verve

Michael Church, Independent

the performance here was first-rate, benefitting from the ideally intimate dimensions of the Linbury Theatre and its generous acoustic, as well as the crisp playing of the London Handel Orchestra sparkly conducted by Laurence Cummings

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

Laurence Cummings conducts a whistle-stop, light-touch performance.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian

the London Handel Orchestra, conducted with flair by Laurence Cummings, sounds ideal in the Baroque-sized Linbury Theatre.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Saul

Glyndebourne Festival Opera (July 2018)

it has a brilliant precision, and a largely new cast brings fresh energy to it, galvanised from the pit by Laurence Cummings and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

there is also the bustling Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to enjoy, conducted again by Laurence Cummings, so devoted to the composer of Saul that Handel might be his middle name.

Geoff Brown, The Times

the thrilling playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the focused baton of conductor Laurence Cummings.

George Hall, The Stage

the chorus is predictably excellent and Laurence Cummings and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment play the music with plenty of zest.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Laurence Cummings Repertoire

ALMEIDA

La Guiditta
La Spinalba

BACH

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

BRITTEN

St. Nicholas

CAVERLIERI

Rap. di Anima e di Corpo

ECCLES

The Judgement of Paris

GLUCK

Iphigénie en Tauride
Orfeo ed Euridice

HANDEL

Aci, Gallatea e Polifemo
Acis and Galatea
Agrippina
Alceste
Alexander Balus
Arianna
Ariodante
Arminio
Atalanta
Athalia
Belshazzar
Berenice
Brockes Passion
Deborah
Duetti amorosi
Esther
Ezio
Faramondo
Giulio Cesare
Giove in Argo
Gloria
Hercules
Imeneo
Israel in Eqypt
Jephtha
Joshua
Joseph and his Brethren
Judas Maccabaeus
Lotario
Messiah
Occasional Oratorio
Ottone
Poro
Riccardo Primo
Rinaldo
Rodelinda
Rodrigo
Samson
Saul
Semele
Siroe
Solomon
Sorsame
Susanna
Tamerlano
Theodora
Tolomeo

MONTEVERDI

Incoronazione di Poppea
Orfeo
Vespers of 1610

MOZART

Lucio Silla
Idomeneo

PURCELL

King Arthur
The Fairy Queen
The Indian Queen

RAMEAU

Dardanus
Les Palladins (Suite)

STRAVINSKY

The Rake's Progress

VIVALDI

L'incoronazione di Dario
L'Olimpiade
La Verita in Cimento

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