Born in 1957, English conductor George Vass studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music; he made his professional conducting debut at St John’s, Smith Square, London and as Artistic Director of the Regent Sinfonia of London and Orchestra Nova, has appeared at many of the UK’s major concert halls and festivals, including Symphony Hall, Birmingham, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room. As a guest conductor he has worked with a wide variety of ensembles including the Bournemouth Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National and Ulster orchestras, the Amsterdams Promenade Orkest, Blaze Ensemble, Joyful Company of Singers, Konzertensemble Salzburg, London Mozart Players, Malmö Opera Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir of Merton College Oxford, Choir of Royal Holloway, Schola Cantorum of Oxford, Sine Nomine International Touring Choir, Oxford Orchestra da Camera and the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra. He has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4 television, and worked at the Dartington International Summer School for the first time in 2016.
George Vass has made over thirty-five successful recordings of opera, orchestral and choral music for the Dutton Epoch, Champs Hill, Guild, Lyrita, Naxos, Resonus Classics, SOMM and Toccata Classics labels. His rapidly growing discography includes music by William Alwyn, Richard Rodney Bennett, Elgar, Delius, Stephen Dodgson, Handel, Joseph Holbrooke, Holst, Michael Hurd, Thomas Hyde, John Joubert, Kenneth Leighton, Elizabeth Maconchy, William Mathias, David Matthews, John McCabe, Cecilia McDowall, Stephen McNeff, Paul Patterson, Purcell, Susie Self, Tovey, Vaughan Williams and Warlock.
He has held the post of Artistic Director to the Presteigne Festival since 1992, having also served the Hampstead and Highgate Festival from 2004 until 2009 in a similar capacity. He is founder Artistic Director of Nova Music and is currently Music Director of the Bushey Symphony Orchestra, City of Canterbury Chamber Choir and St Albans Choral Society.
In his dual career as conductor and festival director, George Vass maintains a strong interest in the performance and promotion of contemporary music. Over the last twenty-five years he has commissioned and premiered a variety of new works from leading composers including Sally Beamish, Martin Butler, Gabriel Jackson, David Matthews, John McCabe, Cecilia McDowall, Paul Patterson, Robert Saxton, Peter Sculthorpe, Huw Watkins and Hugh Wood.
For the operatic stage, Vass premiered Thomas Hyde’s That Man Stephen Ward (Hampstead and Highgate Festival, 2008; revival for Nova Music Opera, 2015) and for Nova Music Opera: Sally Beamish Hagar in the Wilderness (2013), Stephen McNeff Prometheus Drown’d (2014), Cecilia McDowall Airborne (2014) and Charlotte Bray Entanglement (2015). He has also conducted Britten Curlew River (Nova Music Opera, 2013; Hampstead and Highgate Springfest, 2009) and Holst Savitri (Nova Music, English Music Festival, 2010). He premieres Joseph Phibbs’ new chamber opera Juliana at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
George Vass judged for the 2012 BBC Young Musician competition, is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and, in November 2014, became chair of the British Arts Festivals Association.