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 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 for the following season, 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). 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, as well as being responsible for the high musical standards of the whole company throughout. 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, Wake with Birmingham Opera Company, and Owen Wingrave with British Youth Opera, a performance of which he conducted with the Southbank Sinfonia. In the 2018-19 season Jack conducts Cendrillon for Glyndebourne on Tour, as well as the inaugural Glyndebourne Christmas Concert, showcasing the Glyndebourne Chorus and Tour Orchestra, and celebrating 50 years of the Glyndebourne Tour. He will also assist on The Bartered Bride at Garsington, with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and on Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves for Scottish Opera at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Between 2013 and 2017 Jack was Associate Conductor of L’Orchestre QuiPasseParLà in Lausanne. He made his debut with the Polska Filharmonia Bałtycka at the Koncertowa na Ołowiance, Gdańsk in March 2014, and conducted 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 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, again conducting new commissions, under the tutelage of Pierre-André Valade. Jack has also been an active participant in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins, Charles Peebles, and George Hurst, and in the summer of 2015 he was invited to Tanglewood as an active participant on the Conducting Fellowship Programme. This season he makes his debut with the Haydn Chamber Orchestra in a programme of Weber, Mozart and Nielsen, with the pianist John Paul Ekins.
Before moving to Vienna, Jack read 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 chorus made up of any students or staff 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 for the world première of the "people's opera", Silver Birch; and building on its enormous success, he conducted the children's opera Eliza and the Swans in 2018, working with the company's newly expanded Youth Chorus. Like Silver Birch, the production of Wake, on which he worked for Birmingham Opera Company, was also a world première involving a large volunteer chorus; furthermore the performances themselves took place in a warehouse in Digbeth, bringing opera away from the traditional opera house or concert hall and into the public sphere. Similarly, on English Touring Opera's 2017 spring tour, Jack's engagement with the wider community included rehearsing all the children's choruses for Tosca - a different chorus in each touring venue (22 in total); presenting pre-performance talks at each of the shows; and conducting (from the keyboard) over 30 performances of Silver Electra - a newly commissioned family opera which was taken to schools, libraries and community venues around the country. He has also created and led masterclasses and workshops for primary-school children, for W11 Opera and Into Opera. In November 2019, Jack will conduct The Casket Girl for Jubilee Opera, a new commission written for by Russell Hepplewhite for schoolchildren in Aldeburgh.
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 Nicky Spence and 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, and as a coach and recital accompanist for English Touring Opera. 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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