David Watkin

David Watkin read Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge whilst studying the cello with William Pleeth and singing with Kenneth Bowen. He was a Shell/LSO Finalist, received the Bulgin Medal and was Principal cello in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

As a cellist he has made a wide range of acclaimed recordings including Sonatas by Vivaldi (Hyperion) Beethoven (Chandos) and Francis Pott (Guild), Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante with OAE (Virgin) and Schubert Quintet with the Tokyo Quartet (hmusa). He has been a soloist at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York and performed the Schumann Concerto with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and ORR at Lincoln Center, New York. As a guest artist he has collaborated with, among others, Robert Levin, Nicola Benedetti and Fredericka von Stade.

David has played solo Bach at Bach’s birthplace in Eisenach, at Frederick the Great’s Palace, in the Prague Spring Festival and featuring in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s TV programme “A Passionate Life”. He is a juror for the Leipzig Bach Competition.

As a member of the Eroica Quartet he performed all over Europe and the USA and their recordings of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Debussy and Ravel have astonished critics. Research begun whilst a student of Peter le Huray at Cambridge resulted in the now growing revival of improvised chordal accompaniment on the cello, with performances, recordings and publications in Early Music. He has written widely about performance in The Strad and in CUP’s volume Performing Beethoven.

David Watkin brings to conducting decades of music making at the highest level. The breadth of his musical background – academic and practical, ‘early’ and modern, vocal and instrumental, symphonic and chamber – gives him a unique perspective in a wide range of repertoire. As Principal Cello in some of the world’s leading ensembles – English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – he played a key role at the heart of some ground-breaking performances. As well as formal study of conducting he has worked under, and received guidance from some of the leading conductors of the age. He has conducted groups including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Malta Philharmonic, the Swedish Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, and the Manchester Consort. He was Assistant Conductor to Robin Ticciati at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and conducted Handel’s Agrippina at RCS as well as scenes in concert from Fidelio and Pelleas. He conducted the EUYO Campus Orchestra at Grafenegg and returned to conduct Mahler’s epic First Symphony with the European Union Youth Orchestra at European Forum Alpbach. In his time conducting the Meadows Chamber Orchestra he completed a cycle of Brahms Symphonies. As Artistic Director of St Endellion Easter Festival he conducted Bach’s St John Passion, and with Manchester Consort the St Matthew Passion. He has conducted ensembles at the Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music, the Royal Welsh College, Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he is a Professor. 

His recording of the Cello Suites (Resonus) won both Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine Awards, and was one of three recordings of the Cello Suites included alongside Casals’ in Gramophone’s list of “The 50 Greatest Bach Recordings”.

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“He not only brings that dedicated scholarly view of playing characteristic of period instrument specialists, but he plays with such huge commitment. He is a great inspiration to me, especially in Mozart.” Sir Charles Mackerras, BBC Music Magazine

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