Described by BBC Radio 3 as ‘the saviour of contemporary classical music’, respected English conductor George Vass studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music, London; he was appointed Music Director of the Bushey Symphony Orchestra in 1985.
George Vass made his professional conducting debut at St John’s Smith Square in 1979 and, as Artistic Director of the Regent Sinfonia of London and Orchestra Nova, has appeared at many of the UK’s major concert halls and festivals. As a guest conductor he has worked with ensembles including the Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony and Ulster orchestras, Amsterdams Promenade Orkest, Konzertensemble Salzburg, Joyful Company of Singers, London Mozart Players, Malmö Opera Orchestra, the choirs of Royal Holloway and Merton College Oxford and Schola Cantorum Oxford. He has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4 television.
Vass has made over thirty successful commercial recordings for the Dutton Epoch, Champs Hill, Guild, Lyrita, Naxos, SOMM and Toccata Classics labels among others. His rapidly growing discography includes a wide variety of music by Alwyn, Rodney Bennett, James Francis Brown, Elgar, Delius, Dodgson, Handel, Holbrooke, Holst, Hurd, Thomas Hyde, John Joubert, Leighton, Maconchy, Mathias, David Matthews, McCabe, Cecilia McDowall, Stephen McNeff, Paul Patterson, Purcell, Susie Self, Tovey, Vaughan Williams and Warlock.
He has been in post as artistic director of the Presteigne Festival since 1992, having also directed the Hampstead and Highgate Festival (2004-09). Currently music director of St Albans Choral Society, he worked at the Dartington Summer School in both 2016 and 2017.
As founder Artistic Director of Nova Music Opera, he premiered Thomas Hyde’s That Man Stephen Ward (Hampstead and Highgate Festival, 2008; revival for Nova Music Opera, 2015) and, for Nova Music Opera, Sally Beamish’s Hagar in the Wilderness (2013), Stephen McNeff’s Prometheus Drown’d (2014), Cecilia McDowall’s Airborne (2014) and Charlotte Bray’s Entanglement (2015). He has also conducted Britten’s Curlew River (Hampstead and Highgate Springfest, 2009; Nova Music, 2013) and Holst’s Savitri (Nova Music, English Music Festival, 2010).
Over the last thirty or so years he has commissioned and premiered new work from such eminent composers as Sally Beamish, Gabriel Jackson, Paweł Łukaszewski, David Matthews, John McCabe, Cecilia McDowall, Paul Patterson, Joseph Phibbs, Robert Saxton, Peter Sculthorpe, Huw Watkins and Hugh Wood.
Recent highlights have included a much-lauded sixtieth birthday concert at St John’s Smith Square and performances of Sweeney Todd at the Dartington International Summer School; he premieres Joseph Phibbs’ new chamber opera Juliana at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
George Vass is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, became chair of the British Arts Festivals Association in 2014 and in October 2017 was given a BASCA Gold Badge Award marking his support of the UK song writing and composing community. He also serves as a governor of The Royal Society of Musicians – founded in 1738, Britain’s oldest music charity providing immediate financial assistance to musicians unable to work due to accident, illness or old age.