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HILARY DAVAN WETTON

Conductor

Hilary Davan Wetton is one of Britain's most versatile and dynamic conductors.

Both choral and orchestral repertoire has featured in his wide-ranging career, and Hilary is particularly admired for his interpretations of Haydn and Mendelssohn, as well as English music of the 20th century.


Acclaimed recordings include those with the City of London Choir, Guildford Choral Society, Holst Singers, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic  Orchestras. Excerpts are available on this site.

A regular guest conductor with choirs and orchestras both in Britain and overseas, Hilary can be regularly heard on Radio 3 and Classic FM. 

 

BIOGRAPHY

Hilary Davan Wetton is Musical Director of the City of London Choir and Associate Conductor of the London Mozart Players. He is also Conductor Emeritus of the Milton Keynes City Orchestra, of which he was Founder and Principal Conductor from 1975 to 2007, and of the Guildford Choral Society.

Founder-Conductor of the Holst Singers, he directed them from 1978 to 1992 and made a number of recordings for Hyperion and Unicorn-Kanchana. He has also made several outstanding recordings for Hyperion and Naxos with both the City of London and Guildford Choirs. His 1994 disc of Holst's Choral Symphony was awarded the Diapason d'Or. ‘Flower of the Field’, recorded with the City of London Choir, London Mozart Players, Roderick Williams and Jeremy Irons, went straight to the top of the classical charts in 2014. ‘Home for Christmas’, with the Military Wives Choirs and Orchestra, was at number two in the classical chart for six consecutive weeks over Christmas 2016. ‘The Nation's Favourite Carols’ - with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - reached number one in the Chart in 2017. In 2018, he released his second Military Wives recording – Remember – the success of which led to two invitations to appear on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. At the beginning of 2019, Hilary was appointed Artistic Director of the Military Wives Choirs.

Hilary recently conducted The City of London Choir and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in an acclaimed series of concerts pairing late Haydn Masses with Mozart's greatest piano concertos at Cadogan Hall. A recording of Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mass in Time of War was released in January 2017.

Choirs and orchestras frequently engage Hilary as a guest conductor both in Britain and overseas. Recent concerts include performances with the RPO and the Hanover Band, and the fiftieth anniversary concert of the Fairfield Hall with the London Mozart Players in the presence of HRH Prince Edward.

A regular performer on BBC Radio 3, Hilary has given many premières both with the BBC Concert Orchestra and with the Ulster Orchestra. In Ulster, he conducted a series of first broadcasts of 19th century British symphonies (by Cipriani Potter, Sterndale Bennett, William Crotch and Samuel Wesley) for the BBC. He also conducted a number of public concerts for the orchestra, collaborating with Barry Douglas, Brian Rayner-Cook and other international artists.

In the opera pit, Hilary has appeared on a number of occasions with Travelling Opera, for whom he conducted Cosi Fan Tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Carmen and The Barber of Seville. In 1991 he conducted for the French company Ballet du Nord, the first ever danced version of Mozart's Requiem in a double bill with Stravinsky's Apollo at London's Sadlers Wells Theatre. He has also conducted Madame Butterfly for Co-Opera in the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

Engagements abroad have included Bulgaria, Iceland, Norway, and Australia. A twelve-day tour to the United States with the Milton Keynes Orchestra culminated in two concerts in New York's Carnegie and Town Halls to capacity audiences. He made his debut in Seattle with the Bremerton Orchestra and Chorus in Brahms Requiem in May 2009.

Hilary has a long-standing commitment to music-making with young people: from 1983 to 1987 he was conductor of the Orchestra of the Birmingham Conservatoire and he has worked with Youth Orchestras as far afield as Melbourne and Singapore. He was conductor of the Scottish Schools Orchestra from 1984-1995 and of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra from 1994-1997, with whom he toured Scandinavia in 1996 and made a live broadcast on Danish Radio. On his return from this tour he made his debut with the National Children's Orchestra and was invited to return to them in 1998 for concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and for their Millennium celebration concerts in 2000. He has since appeared with them regularly and conducted all their concerts in 2008 for their 30th Anniversary Season. In 2016, he directed the NCO in a memorable performance of Elgar's First Symphony.


For 25 years, Hilary directed the Classical Roadshow, which commissioned a wide range of works for performance by massed children's groups with professional orchestras and narrators. He was Professor of Conducting at the Guildhall School of Music from 2011-13 and Senior Music Associate at Somerville College, Oxford, from 2015-2018.


Hilary is also much admired for his audience building skills. His Classic FM programme, Masterclass, introduced a very wide audience to orchestral music; he was Jo Brand's organ teacher for the BBC1 series, Play it Again and his talks on conducting as a metaphor for management have inspired audiences both in Britain and the United States.

He has been honoured by the Open University (Hon. MA), De Montfort University (Hon. DMus) and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Hon. FRBC).

 
 
 

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY

Recent recordings

THE NATION'S FAVOURITE CAROLS

City of London Choir
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

REMEMBER

Military Wives Choirs

HAYDN MASSES

Mass in Time of War

Nelson Mass

City of London Choir

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

FLOWERS OF THE FIELD

Music by Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Gurney, Butterworth


Roderick Williams - Baritone

Jeremy Irons - Speaker

City of London Choir

London Mozart Players

 

IN TERRA PAX: A CHRISTMAS ANTHOLOGY

Music by Finzi, Holst, Howells, Leighton, Rutter, Warlock, Vaughan Williams

Julia Doyle

Roderick Williams

City of London Choir

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

HODIE

Janice Watson

Peter Hoare

Stephen Gadd


Guildford Choral Society

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Military Wives Choirs

DER GLORREICHE AUGENBLICK

City of London Choir
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Hilary Davan Wetton

 
 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY

GRAMOPHONE

'I defy any Haydn or Mozart lover with a streak of musical adventure not to enjoy this disc.'

DAILY TELEGRAPH

'...these feelings were beautifully caught by the [City of London] choir under their artistic director Hilary Davan Wetton. They summoned a terrific intensity of tone in the final tumultuous lines of Psalm 48, but even this was topped by the incandescent ending of the evening prayer Nunc Dimittis by Gustav Holst.'

DAILY TELEGRAPH

'‘This enchanting disc delves widely and deeply into the repertoire of English Christmas music and comes up with some rewarding finds among some other items that have become staples… all, deservedly, timeless classics, and all are performed here by the City of London Choir with freshness, bloom, attentive diction and a palpable heart… Hilary Davan Wetton throughout draws a winning spectrum of expression from his forces, be it voiced pensively or festively.’

CLASSICAL SOURCE

'Davan Wetton the master of the music, energising it, caring for it while ensuring strength of purpose... The City Of London Choir was outstanding – honed and committed – [and] the RPO consistently neat and stylish.'

DAILY MAIL

'Hilary Davan Wetton is surely our finest choral conductor, and does really well on this record with both his City of London Choir, and the London Mozart Players.
I can think of no better way to crystallise our thoughts on this Remembrance Sunday than with such a beautifully refined and sympathetically chosen album. At the end of the Vaughan Williams piece, the poet writes, ‘Roam on! The light we sought is shining still.’ For these composers, that light was great music, and it can still illuminate our lives today.’

BACHTRACK

'... Davan Wetton shaped the choral and instrumental lines sensitively, often picking out the robust dance-like rhythms of much of the writing and allowing small felicities in the score to emerge naturally, such as the organ obbligato that announces the arrival of the Holy Ghost or the ghostly clarinets at the word mortuos, again in the Credo. His choir delivered a compact and focused body of sound with unflagging momentum, intoning the start of the Sanctus with a hushed reverence and later also summoning up the necessary exuberance at the repeated Osanna in excelsis, both in the Sanctus and Benedictus.'

 

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY

BAILIWICK EXPRESS

'This was a terrific concert and a wonderful start to the Davan Wetton reign at the JSO which, at four years, already seems far too short.' Full revhttp://tiny.cc/bd2mez

 

CONTACT

For general enquiries, email Celia Clark (celia.louise.clark@gmail.com) or complete the form below. For professional engagements contact Patrick Allen at Connaught Artists: patrick@connaughtartists.com.

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