We are very proud to have launched the application process for the fourth ENO Mackerras Fellowship last month. Supported by the Philip Loubser Foundation, the successful candidate will hold the position across two years and will benefit from a unique and bespoke opportunity to work and learn at the heart of ENO. Applications are open until midnight on Sunday 15 October.
We caught up with current ENO Mackerras Fellows Matthew Kofi Waldren and Toby Purser, who told us a little bit about their time as Mackerras fellows and their wider careers in the UK and around the world.
Matthew Kofi Waldren
Over the course of the ENO Mackerras Fellowship I have continued my work as an Assistant Conductor at ENO. In the 2016 season I had the opportunity to collaborate with former music director Mark Wigglesworth on Don Giovanni, and this season will work alongside current music director Martyn Brabbins on The Marriage of Figaro when I will also conduct a performance of the production. This autumn season at ENO I return to an opera that I have previously conducted at Opera Holland Park, assisting Hilary Griffiths on the revival of The Barber of Seville with a fantastic cast of singers.
Beyond the London Coliseum I have been busy elsewhere; as assistant conductor to Scottish Opera music director Stuart Stratford on Sir David McVicar’s acclaimed production of Pelléas et Mélisande I made my debut with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera with Pelléas Unwrapped. I subsequently opened the Opera Holland Park 2017 season, conducting a critically-acclaimed production of La rondine before reviving Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Future performances in the 2018 season include, alongside my ENO debut, my Opera North debut where I will share the conducting of their revival of Don Giovanni, and a re-invitation to open the Opera Holland Park 2018 season with La traviata.
My period of work at ENO has allowed me a huge range of experiences and repertoire, all of them inspiring, and all of them offering me invaluable insight and opportunities. My first production was acting as Assistant Conductor to Mark Wigglesworth on Alban Berg’s Lulu, for sure my greatest musical challenge to date, and one in which I could not have been more fortunate than in having Mark’s guidance. After this, I assisted Ryan Wigglesworth on the world premiere of his opera, The Winter’s Tale, during which I was invited to conduct a large share of the Stage and Piano rehearsals, as well as working with the Cover Cast. This season I am working on another World Premiere, Marnie by Nico Muhly, assisting ENO music director Martyn Brabbins, and in Spring acting as Assistant Conductor on Daniel Kramer’s new production of La traviata, which I will also be conducting for one performance in April. In summer, I will be conductor of Britten’s Turn of the Screw, conducting ten performances in an ENO collaboration with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, directed by Timothy Sheader.
Thanks to my ENO experiences, I was invited to assist Mark Wigglesworth on concerts over the summer in Adelaide and Sydney, and afterwards with Edward Gardner on Eugene Onegin at the Opera Bastille, Paris. Away from ENO, my opera work has included the UK premiere of a Johann Strauss Operetta, Das Spitzentuch der Königin, with director Jeff Clarke and Opera della Luna, and fulfilled a life-long ambition of conducting Tristan und Isolde, which I did in rehearsal as assistant conductor to Anthony Negus at Longborough Opera. I have also been appointed Music Director of New Sussex Opera, with my first production scheduled for a UK tour in November 2018. With my own orchestra, the Orion Orchestra, I programme at least one opera gala per year, and with them am about to embark on a three year concert series, Alpha and Omega. Finally, as Artistic Director of the Peace and Prosperity Trust, I have been furthering cultural collaboration between the UK and the Middle East with concerts in Beirut and London, bringing together Western and Middle Eastern opera singers, helping relaunch the Beirut Orpheus Choir, and taking music and musical instruments to Syrian children in the refugee camps on the Lebanese/Syrian border.