"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
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. The 2020/21 season saw his last edition of the Internationale Händel-Festpiele Göttingen, where he was Artistic Director for ten years. 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).
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.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
In The Realms Of Sorrow, London Handel Festival
Stone Nest, February 2023
Led by harpsichordist Laurence Cummings, the one-to-a-part orchestra was all grit, and even the more lyrical lines were extravagantly shaped. [Héloïse] Werner’s musical “dissolves” at the start and end of each cantata were breathtaking: unfamiliar harmonies spooled out of a Handelian cadence; the double bass became a percussion instrument amid guttural squawks from the oboes.
Flora Willson, The Guardian
It was part of the inspired musical innovation of the evening that the cantatas were interspersed with musical passages by Héloïse Werner, introducing a whispering atonality that subtly heightened the sense of subversion and tortured emotion. This helped the cantatas flow into one another to create a plaintive meditation on disappointed love; once Il delirio amoroso had finished we were plunged straight into Armida abbandonata HWV 105, which kicked off unforgettably with the lyrics “Ungrateful bastard – How dare you…”
Throughout, Cummings – the festival director – kept a tight rein on the evening’s stampede of emotions with his elegant direction from the harpsichord. There was much to savour in the musicians’ individual performances, not least Jonas Nordberg’s lively theorbo accompaniment and Rosie Moon’s vigorous bass, which at one point doubled up as a drum.
Rachael Halliburton, The Arts Desk
Alexander's Feast, London Handel Festival
St George's Hannover Square, February 2023
Laurence Cummings [is] a conductor steeped in Handelian style, and the ornamentation, particularly by the fiddles and oboes of the London Handel Orchestra, was profuse and precise. But he is also alive to the spirit of the music and isn’t afraid to deploy big dynamics to bring it to life. The passages when the excellent London Handel Chorus let rip must have made strong lampposts quiver well north of Oxford Circus.
Richard Morrison, The Times
Under Cummings’s direction, the joint forces of the London Handel Orchestra, the London Handel Singers and National Youth Choirs of Great Britain Fellows gave a rollicking performance in St George’s, Hanover Square.
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Haydn's The Seasons
Academy of Ancient Music / Barbican / October 2022
‘A slow-burn, glorious performance by the Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Laurence Cummings. ’
Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now
The Crown - Heroic Arias for Senesino (CD)
Randall Scotting (countertenor) / Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Signum Classics SIGCD719
"Continuo realisations are plush, with director Laurence Cummings spinning ravishing melodies from his figured bass"
Berta Joncus, Classical Music Magazine
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*
‘ Laurence Cummings provided the coup de theatre of the evening by springing to his feet and taking on the role – most convincingly - of Apollo.’
Andrew Green, Opera Now
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*
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
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
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
Laurence Cummings is an experienced Handel conductor, and ENO’s orchestra played neatly and stylishly
Tristram Kenton, The Times
Laurence Cummings Repertoire
B Minor Mass
Rap. di Anima e di Corpo
The Judgement of Paris
Iphigénie en Tauride
Aci, Gallatea e Polifemo
Incoronazione di Poppea
The Rake's Progress
L'incoronazione di Dario
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