Paul McCreesh is renowned for the energy and passion of his musicianship, and the interpretive insight he brings to repertoire of the widest stylistic and historical breadth. His authoritative performances are founded on uncompromising drive and vision, alongside a hunger for new challenges. First established as the founder and artistic director of the Gabrieli Consort & Players, he now conducts such orchestras as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bergen Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Verbier Festival Orchestra. He is a former Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the Gulbenkian Orchestra, Lisbon and served for six seasons as Artistic Director of the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans in Wrocław, Poland.
At the heart of McCreesh’s music-making is a determination to broaden and democratise access to the arts. He is actively involved in developing new performing opportunities and educational initiatives across Europe, and carefully curated collaborations with youth choirs and orchestras are central to his work.
McCreesh’s ever-questioning spirit makes him a difficult artist to categorise: he is as likely to be found conducting Purcell’s theatre works as Elgar’s symphonies or an a cappella part song. He is particularly known for his performances of major choral works, such as Britten’s War Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Verdi’s Requiem, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons. He brings to all this repertoire the same rigorous scholarship and interpretive flair that defined his early career, confirming his reputation for innovation, and making him one of today’s most highly regarded recording artists.
“May the Gabrieli Consort & Players live forever in health and glory!” The Times
Gabrieli are world-renowned interpreters of great vocal and instrumental repertoire from the Renaissance to the present day. Formed as an early-music ensemble by Paul McCreesh in 1982, we have both outgrown and remained true to our original identity. Over more than 35 years, our repertoire has expanded beyond any expectation, but McCreesh’s ever-questioning spirit and expressive musicianship, together with a healthy degree of iconoclasm, remain constant features of the ensemble’s dynamic performances. We perform major works of the oratorio tradition, virtuosic a cappella programmes of music from many centuries and mould- breaking reconstructions of music from historical events.
Gabrieli are acclaimed interpreters of Handel oratorios and Bach Passions and our recordings have garnered numerous international awards, including Gramophone Awards for recordings of Haydn The Creation (2008 Choral Award) and A New Venetian Coronation 1595 (2012 Early Music Award), BBC Music Magazine Awards for Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts and Britten War Requiem, and a Grammy nomination in 2010 for the a cappella disc A Spotless Rose.
A number of strong relationships have defined our international profile over many years and such partnerships remain at the heart of our activities. For over 15 years, in conjunction with Martin Randall Travel, we have pioneered new areas of ‘cultural tourism’ in creating festivals of music in European historic centres, developing new programmes specifically inspired by the exquisite buildings and cities in which they are performed. We were resident artists at Brinkburn Music in Northumberland, with whom we developed some of our most exciting projects over 17 years. From 2006 to 2012 we were associate artists of the Wratislavia Cantans Festival, and subsequently embarked on an exciting partnership with the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, a collaboration which features strongly in some of our critically-acclaimed recent oratorio recordings.
Beyond the concert hall, Gabrieli is committed to the ongoing development of Gabrieli Roar, an audacious choral training programme that takes a bold stance on the abilities of teenage singers. This ambitious partnership with a network of leading UK youth choirs offers intensive training and mentoring to young singers to prepare them for unrivalled performance and recording opportunities alongside Gabrieli’s professional musicians. Early successes in this scheme include a BBC Proms performance of Mendelssohn Elijah and studio recordings of Elijah and Britten War Requiem. Gabrieli Roar’s inaugural performance under its new name took place in February 2016 at Southwark Cathedral, followed by a large-scale celebration of Anglican choral repertoire at Ely Cathedral in July 2016. Recent projects include Haydn Masses, Purcell and Praetorius programmes and An English Coronation, a spectacular large-scale recreation of music from the 20th century’s four coronations.
In addition to our renowned live performances, Gabrieli aims to create inspirational and thought-provoking recordings that stand out from the crowd. In 2011, Paul McCreesh established his own record label, Winged Lion, which in its first year alone released four extremely diverse recordings, underlining Gabrieli’s versatility and McCreesh’s breadth of vision. The focal point of Winged Lion’s output is the Wratislavia Cantans Oratorio Series, spectacular large-scale oratorio recordings made in conjunction with the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir with the kind support of the National Forum of Music, Wrocław. There are now four recordings in this series: Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Mendelssohn Elijah, Britten War Requiem and Haydn The Seasons, released in 2017 to universal acclaim.
The Winged Lion catalogue also includes four of Gabrieli’s beloved a cappella programmes, A Song of Farewell (English choral repertoire from Morley and Sheppard to Howells and MacMillan), Incarnation (an inspiring sequence of lesser-known Christmas music), Silence & Music (a movingly introspective survey of English part-song in the 20th century) and A Rose Magnificat (works devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary from the Renaissance to the present day); as well as A New Venetian Coronation 1595 (the much-anticipated re-recording of the ensemble’s famed 1990 reconstruction featuring music by Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli) and Handel L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (our first Handel recording in more than a decade). Future releases include Purcell King Arthur and The Fairy Queen, and An English Coronation.
Gabrieli’s reputation for award-winning recordings was established during a 15-year association with Deutsche Grammophon. Our current Winged Lion releases are equally regarded as benchmark recordings, receiving accolades that include BBC Music Magazine Awards (Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts, Britten War Requiem), Gramophone Award (A New Venetian Coronation 1595) and a Diapason d’Or de l’Année (Mendelssohn Elijah).
Born in Liverpool, Nicholas was a chorister at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral before studying Modern Languages at Cambridge and voice at the RAM. He has since been in constant demand both in the UK and further afield in a wide range of concert, recital and opera engagements.
He has sung at many of the world’s great concert halls: the Sydney Opera House, Boston Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and the Salzburg Festival.
Nicholas has particularly enjoyed prolonged collaborations with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and EBS, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort, Andrzej Kosendiak, Stephen Layton and Jordi Savall. He has also sung to critical acclaim with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the OAE, the Brussels, Copenhagen, BBC, Wroclaw and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, and Britten Sinfonia. On the opera stage he has appeared at houses including Paris (Palais Garnier and Opéra Comique), Glyndebourne, Copenhagen’s Kongelige Teater, Opéra de Lille, and the Grand Capitole in Toulouse.
He has sung John Tavener’s Requiem with BBCNOW, Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires with Mr McFall’s Chamber (also recorded for Delphian), Berio Sinfonia with RLPO, Britten Les Illuminations with the Britten Sinfonia in China, Haydn Creation with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Britten’s Serenade with Orquesta del Principado de Asturias, Britten Nocturne and Mozart Requiem with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
A committed recitalist, he has appeared regularly at the Wigmore Hall singing a wide range of repertoire including Purcell, both Bach Passions, Schubert, and the complete Britten Canticles. He has sung Janacek’s Diary of One who Vanished for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, for the Philharmonia at the RFH, and as part of the Aurora Janacek Festival, and given recitals at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, and festivals in Maribor, Ludlow, Bath and Orkney. He continues to collaborate with regular partners John Reid, Joseph Middleton, Alisdair Hogarth and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny.
He has recorded extensively, with credits including a Gramophone Award-winning Messiah and critical acclaim has followed for recordings of Matthäus-Passion, María de Buenos Aires, and projects with Theatre of the Ayre and the English Baroque Soloists. Highlights for this season include a return to the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, a debut with Bachakademie Stuttgart, and concerts with the Gabrieli Consort and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.