The English National Opera’s conducting award, the Charles Mackerras Fellowship, celebrating its legendary former music director, has been awarded to two conductors for the first time.
Toby Purser and Matthew Waldren have received a joint fellowship, giving them a chance to work and develop as conductors at ENO under the mentorship of music director Mark Wigglesworth. For two years, beginning in September 2016, they will assist with ENO productions, with full access to casting, staging and production departments.
Toby Purser (above) founded the Oxford Philomusica and was appointed assistant conductor of the l’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris. He has also worked at Grange Park Opera and Buxton Festival. In 2014 he made his ENO company conducting debut in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.
Matthew Waldren had a ten-year career as an opera singer before turning his hand to conducting. He has recently conducted Delibes’s Lakmé and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville at Holland Park and Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House.
A final shortlist of six candidates was interviewed and auditioned at London’s Henry Wood Hall with a panel including ENO’s music director Mark Wigglesworth and head of music Martin Fitzpatrick, soprano Susan Bullock and BBC Music Magazine writer David Nice.
Wigglesworth said: ‘The panel was unanimous that both Matthew Waldren and Toby Purser revealed the right combination of potential and skill to benefit from this amazing opportunity, and so sharing the Fellowship was the inevitable and exciting outcome of this year’s audition process. I look forward to welcoming these two exceptional talents to English National Opera.’
The awards scheme has been running since 2012 and previous recipients include conductor Fergus Macleod who has assisted on eight productions and made his ENO debut in November 2015, conducting Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado. ‘My time at ENO has been invaluable. It is a truly incredible place to work,’ he said. ‘The support and guidance I received will guide me for many years to come.’
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