Born in 1957, English conductor George Vass studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music; he has been Music Director of the Bushey Symphony Orchestra since 1985.
Vass made his professional conducting debut at St John’s, Smith Square, London 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 a wide variety of ensembles including the Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National and Ulster orchestras, the Amsterdams Promenade Orkest, Konzertensemble Salzburg, Joyful Company of Singers, London Mozart Players, Malmö Opera Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Blaze Ensemble, Corinthian Chamber Orchestra, Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra, the Choir of Merton College Oxford, the Choir of Royal Holloway, Schola Cantorum of Oxford and Oxford Orchestra da Camera. He has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4 television, and in 2016 made his debut at the Dartington International Summer School.
He has made over thirty successful commercial discs 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 William Alwyn, Richard Rodney Bennett, Elgar, Delius, Stephen Dodgson, Handel, Joseph Holbrooke, Holst, Michael Hurd, Thomas Hyde, John Joubert, Kenneth Leighton, Elizabeth Maconchy, William Mathias, David Matthews, John 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 served the Hampstead and Highgate Festival in a similar position from 2004 until 2009. He is founder Artistic Director of Nova Music and is also currently Music Director of the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir and St Albans Choral Society.
In his dual career as conductor and festival director, George Vass maintains a strong interest in the performance and promotion of contemporary music. Over the last twenty odd years he has commissioned and premiered a variety of new works from such eminent composers as Sally Beamish, Martin Butler, Gabriel Jackson, Paweł Łukaszewski, David Matthews, John McCabe, Cecilia McDowall, Paul Patterson, Robert Saxton, Peter Sculthorpe, Huw Watkins and Hugh Wood.
For the operatic stage, Vass 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 (Nova Music Opera, 2013; Hampstead and Highgate Springfest, 2009) and Holst’s Savitri (Nova Music, English Music Festival, 2010.
George Vass was a judge for the 2012 BBC Young Musician competition, is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and, in November 2014, became chair of the British Arts Festivals Association.