George Vass

George Vass


'Here is a gifted British conductor at the height of his powers, whose achievements are much to be commended, and whose future is undoubtedly assured' - Musical Opinion

'Vass’ birthday gift was, of course, music hot off the press. Nothing to scare the sheep, though. Tonality and melody are thriving in Presteigne. Variations on Lovely Joan is a gorgeous addition to the string orchestra repertoire, remarkably coherent given that it’s written by eight composers. Based on an English folk song, the variations are full of character, from Michael Berkeley’s frolics to Sally Beamish’s rapt stillness ... It was fabulously played by the Presteigne Festival Orchestra and Vass' (Presteigne Festival 2017) - The Times

'Hugh Wood’s 85th birthday year was marked by his Beginnings: Three Early Songs for mezzo and string orchestra, a reworking of songs from 1956 ... Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was a sensitive and poetic interpreter of the disparate texts, accompanied by expressive string-playing under George Vass’s crisply authoritative direction' (Presteigne Festival 2017) - The Hereford Times

'The result is a fantastic opera which absolutely gripped me and held my attention throughout ... Hyde is honoured by a performance of breathtaking compulsion from Damian Thantrey and played superbly under George Vass' - Classical Source

'George Vass conducts with committed precision. Playing and recorded sound are both excellent. It’s a fascinating achievement, beautifully done' (Thomas Hyde: That Man Stephen Ward) - Gramophone

'Following the interval ... came Canto III - A Portrait of the Artist at a Certain Moment by Einojuhani Rautavaara. It’s a lavishly sonorous and bi-tonal work from 1972 that in places bears some kinship with Béla Bartók, and builds towards a powerful climax. With only 19 players ... George Vass brought vivid detail and colour to this opulent score and made clear the tremendous rapport he has with these young musicians'. (Presteigne Festival Orchestra 2015) – Bachtrack

'Nova Music Opera’s double bill of contemporary one-act chamber operas at the 71st Cheltenham Music Festival centred on the ill-fated main protagonists in two notorious legal cases from modern British history. George Vass and the Nova Music Ensemble contributed significantly to the success of this operatic debut (Entanglement). Sensitively interpreting Bray’s finely-spun, often attenuated score, their subtle heightening of the tensions, resentments and compulsions driving the action onstage complemented Rosenthal’s elliptical and punchy text to create an emotionally engaging and haunting piece'. (Nova Music Opera, Cheltenham Festival 2015) – Opera

'... a pair of new works by Stephen McNeff and Cecilia McDowall ... Sharing a common theme of loss and lives prematurely ended, both benefited from the sure sense of pace of Richard Williams’ stage direction and the sensitivity and flair of the Nova Music Opera Ensemble under the committed direction of George Vass'. (Nova Music Opera, 2014) – Opera

'The sum of the aforementioned highlights is an event of quality like no other. In times when dumbing down appears to be a default position, the Presteigne Festival provides intelligent scheduling and musical excellence at every turn. In the current musical calendar it shines very brightly indeed'. (Presteigne Festival 2014) – Musical Opinion Quarterly

'There was one Britten offering which reminded us anew of this composer's genius. For its first-ever venture into opera the Presteigne Festival, now nearly a third-of-a-century old, engaged Nova Music Opera to perform the church parable Curlew River in St Andrew's Church. Everything gelled perfectly under the seamless and flexible conducting of George Vass ... this was my highlight of the year, and a very special event in the quiet remoteness of the lovely Welsh Marches'. (Nova Music Opera/Presteigne Festival 2013) - Birmingham Post

'During the festival finale, [artistic] director George Vass displayed the wonderful Festival Orchestra at its very best. The taxing programme began with a sonorous performance of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasia and concluded with a rendition of Tippett's demanding Concerto for double string orchestra that was nothing short of brilliant' (Presteigne Festival 2012) - Western Mail

'Saturday's anniversary gala concert brought another striking creation in Matthew Taylor's Variations on a Theme of Reger, one of numerous string pieces spiritedly despatched by Vass and the persuasive Presteigne Festival Orchestra' (Presteigne Festival 2012) - The Times

'The performances of both works are consistently of high quality; George Vass has this style at his fingertips and in the ballet, especially, he is excellent: in the Concerto, he delivers a wholly sympathetic partnership with Amy Dickson ... a most attractive and successful release' [Holbrooke and Richard Rodney Bennett CD] - International Record Review

'... conductor George Vass (who has premiered many contemporary works) leads both the Bournemouth Symphony and his own Orchestra Nova in sonorously dazzling readings ...' [David Matthews concertos CD] - Fanfare

'George Vass, himself no stranger to the Matthews idiom, secues stylish and sensitive playing here and in the 'tone-poem' After Sunrise' [David Matthews concertos CD] - International Record Review

'... luced orchestral support under the sympathetic eyes and ears of George Vass' [David Matthews concertos CD] - Gramophone

'George Vass directs deftly and effectively throughout...' [David Matthews concertos CD] - BBC Music Magazine

'Festival highlights included ... a fresh and bracing presentation of Samuel Barber's rarely encountered Capricorn Concerto by the Festival Orchestra under the direction of Artistic Director George Vass' (Presteigne Festival 2010) - Tempo

'... the concert was conducted by George Vass, who deserves unstinting praise for another major achievement. Forget Berlin, Salzburg, the Proms, Edinburgh - Presteigne is where it's at. Thank you, George' (Presteigne Festival 2009) - Hereford Times

'Modern music never takes an extreme form at the Hampstead and Highgate Festival, where the artistic director, George Vass, deftly cultivates the native strain and the ghosts of Constable and Keats, local luminaries, feel near, but there are always premieres: this year, four. I caught a sweet and stylish Serenade for Spring by Adam Gorb, given by Vass and the excellent, if hardly overresourced, festival orchestra at St John-at-Hampstead ... After the Gorb ... came another immortal bird, Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending, a work whose description as a romance for violin and small orchestra seemed, in this superbly paced account by Vass, with the brilliant young Thomas Gould, wholly inadequate: it is a full-blown concerto of amazing originality. The closing concert there, by the same forces, brought similar revelations. Vaughan Williams's Tallis Fantasia, for strings, and Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra were masterfully done, and Howard Ferguson's Concerto for Piano and Strings (Danny Driver the skilful soloist) was a satisfying novelty.' - The Sunday Times

'The performances are universally excellent, George Vass encouraging Orchestra Nova to give what is probably its finest recorded showing to date [David Matthews vocal and orchestral CD]' - International Records and Recording

'Performances under the direction of George Vass have plenty of vitality, with excellent solo vocal contributions [David Matthews vocal and orchestral CD]' - The Daily Telegraph

'Biting in attack, an amazingly assured performance [Hugh Wood: Divertimento for string orchestra] by the Presteigne Festival Orchestra once again testified to the remarkable results conductor and festival director George Vass obtains from his gifted young players ...' - The Birmingham Post

'... another recent Dutton release entitled British Viola Music, showcasing the considerable musicianship of violist Sarah-Jane Bradley. Her responsive accompanists are Orchestra Nova under George Vass ... Both soloist and conductor audibly love and understand this repertoire. They bring out the individual character of each work, drawing the listener in to its distinctive, secret world of invention.' - Tempo

'The Hampstead and Highgate Festival ended with a concert in the beautiful airiness of St John-at-Hampstead by the Festival Orchestra ... conducted by George Vass, including striking accounts of Britten's Les Illuminations (the excellent soprano, Elizabeth Watts, sang from the pulpit), Paul Patterson's Violin Concerto (with a persuasive soloist in Tamas Andras) and Dvorak's Serenade for Strings' - Sunday Times

'George Vass and his Orchestra Nova make highly effective partners for [Sarah-Jane] Bradley, and the clear, warm-toned sound does all concerned full justice' - BBC Music Magazine

'Alice Neary plays this demanding work [Tovey: Cello Concerto] with immense skill and dedication, and she is impressively supported by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by George Vass ... A revelatory issue' - Sunday Telegraph

'The undoubted highlight of my three days in Presteigne was Anthony Marwood's spellbinding account of Vasks's Violin Concerto, Distant Light, on the opening night - it was still being raved about by the time I left. Here, Vass took on his parallel role of conductor, directing the crack band of young professional string players that makes up the Presteigne Festival Orchestra in music-making of the highest order' - Daily Telegraph

'George Vass, Presteigne's Artistic Director, conducted the Festival Orchestra with his characteristically pragmatic but sensitive approach. Vasks, Composer-in-Residence this year in deference to his 60th birthday, could surely only have been delighted' - Musical Opinion

"The recording quality is first-rate, and it is a great pleasure to hear that fine conductor George Vass once more directing excellent performances" - International Record Review

'Performances here are immaculate, full of life, and above all consistently reveal the composer's imaginative resource' - Gramophone

'The performance here under the admirable George Vass is splendid (as, indeed, are those of the other works on this disc.)' - International Record Review

'Artistic director George Vass conducted a meticulously prepared, judiciously balanced account from the expert young players of the Presteigne Festival Orchestra (premiere of Ian Wilson's In fretta, in vento)' - Musical Opinion

'Pleasure, in fact, seemed a constant factor at the Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts ... George Vass, its artistic director, programmed the six-day event with benevolent acuity, accenting the contemporary with festival commissions and a composer-in-residence, yet threading enough through from past times to provide a balanced diet.' - The Times

'George Vass's sympathetic guidance inspires eager, zestful performances' - Gramophone

'The Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts continues to enchant and enrich ... Thanks to the unfailingly acute ear of Artistic Director George Vass for pieces uniting impeccable quality with engaging accessibility, the results are always magical. Special mention must be made of an evening concert by the excellent Presteigne Festival Orchestra and Canterbury Chamber Choir under Vass featuring impressively cogent performances of Tippett's Little Music for strings, Alan Rawsthorne's alluringly Arcadian Concertante Pastorale and culminating in a performance of Cecilia McDowall's graceful Magnificat. This reflective work ... has already been recorded by the choir, soloists and conductor and their assured singing radiated with the confidence of a team with this elegant choral piece in their blood.' - Tempo

'George Vass, a tireless exponent of contemporary music and young artists ... conducts his Canterbury Chamber Choir and Orchestra Nova in finely polished and well recorded accounts of these delightful pieces.' - Birmingham Post

~'George Vass shows himself an honest, thoroughly musical commentator ... phrases are always shapely and dynamics scrupulously adhered to' - Gramophone