Jack Ridley is a London-born conductor and pianist, trained in Vienna at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst with Prof. Mark Stringer and Yuji Yuasa.
Jack made his debut with Glyndebourne Touring Opera in November 2013, conducting the highly critically acclaimed and award-winning production of The Rape of Lucretia in Canterbury, having assisted on it during the rehearsal period. At the final rehearsal, with the Principal Conductor indisposed, Jack jumped in to conduct the work publicly for the first time at Glyndebourne since 1946, when the opera was premiered. This led to an immediate re-invitation, to work as Assistant Conductor on La finta giardiniera. He was also Assistant Conductor on Philips’ The Yellow Sofa in 2012. Jack made his Garsington debut in 2016 conducting Eugene Onegin, which earned him a Leonard Ingrams award from the company and re-invitations for 2017 (Silver Birch) and 2018 (Capriccio). Other operas on which Jack has worked as Assistant Conductor include the award-winning production of Punch and Judy with Neue Oper Wien, La clemenza di Tito at Drottningholms Slottsteater, for which he was also Chorus Master of the Swedish Radio Choir, and Owen Wingrave with British Youth Opera and the Southbank Sinfonia. In 2017, Jack was Head of Music Staff for English Touring Opera's spring tour, on which he conducted nine performances of Tosca and two of Patience.
Jack made his debut with the Polska Filharmonia Bałtycka at the Koncertowa na Ołowiance, Gdańsk in March 2014, and had the opportunity to work with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of the St Magnus Festival in June of the same year. While in Vienna, Jack was Principal Conductor of Valsassina Ensemble, with whom he has made various recordings and performed at the Schlossteater Schönbrunn. With the Valsassina Ensemble, Jack was involved in the commissioning of new works by young composers – something which he has a great passion for. At the St Magnus Festival, he gave the world premiere of a new work with the St Magnus Festival Ensemble, written specifically for the occasion, and in July 2014, he was chosen as one of three conductors to take part in the London Sinfonietta Academy, under the tutelage of Pierre-André Valade. Jack is Associate Conductor of L’Orchestre QuiPasseParLà in Lausanne, and has also been an active participant in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins, Charles Peebles, George Hurst and Rodolfo Saglimbeni. In the summer of 2015 he was invited to Tanglewood as an active participant on the Conducting Fellowship Programme.
Before moving to Vienna, Jack studied Classics at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 2010. During his time at Wadham, where he was a choral scholar, he revitalised the then dormant music scene, setting up a college orchestra and conducting ambitious repertoire with them, including Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto in D minor and Haydn’s 'Nelson' Mass – the latter being a college-wide event, with the choir made up of anyone who wanted to sing. As conductor of Oxford University Student Chorus – the university’s largest non-auditioning choir – repertoire included Carmina Burana, and Jack developed a reputation for opening up performance opportunities to anyone interested in music, and delivering outstanding results. His passion for outreach work within music and making music available to people without prior access to it is something which Jack maintains a deep commitment towards: the performance of Eugene Onegin which he conducted at Garsington was a performance exclusively for local schoolchildren, many of whom had never seen an opera before, and was the first performance of its kind for the company. In 2017, also at Garsington, he rehearsed the 180-strong community chorus in the "people's opera", Silver Birch; and as part of English Touring Opera's 2017 spring tour, he was musical director of a new commission, Silver Electra by Russell Hepplewhite, performed in schools and community venues around the country.
Also a distinguished pianist, Jack studied with Prof. John Barstow in London and Prof. Thomas Kreuzberger in Vienna. A finalist of the inaugural Hans-von-Bülow Klavierwettbewerb in Meiningen, Jack conducted Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in C minor from the keyboard with the Meininger Hofkapelle. His repertoire for piano and orchestra includes works by Grieg, Schumann, Brahms, Shostakovich and Britten. A keen recitalist and accompanist, Jack has played regularly at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford and the Liszt-Saal in Vienna, and given performances with singers including Louise Alder and ensembles such as the Maggini Quartet and the Schubert Ensemble. He has worked as a coach with the Jette-Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House. As a clarinettist, Jack’s playing took him to venues including the Royal Albert Hall, his concerto repertoire comprising works by Weber and Finzi.
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