|Conducting rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony No.4 with Seattle Symphony orchestra.|
Photos by Ben VanHouten
Conductor and Composer Alexander Prior (b.1992) is surely amongst the most remarkable young talents to have emerged in recent times.
Most recently Alexander returned from a series of hugely successful performances in Scandinavia, all of which resulted in immediate reinvitations. This included The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and The Royal Danish Orchestra with 9 sell-out performances, and is soon due to make his Swedish debut with The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, and then again performing in Denmark with The Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, and the Herning Boys, Girls and Men’s choruses.
He has a history of such immediate reinvitation. In the summer of 2011 his conducting-tour, which included 2 highly critically acclaimed concerts with The German Chamber Orchestra Bremen, immediately resulted in 2 reinvitations: for the 11/12 and 12/13 seasons – including a tour of Germany including a performance at the Wurzburg Mozart Festival. In the same summer he also performed Mahler’s 3rd symphony with The Northwest Mahler Festival in Seattle, Washington; and The World Premier of his Triple Concerto “That which must forever remain unspoken” with the City Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong.
Other Recent/upcoming highlights include performances with many leading Nordic and European orchestras, his Canadian debut, and in the USA such prestigious and world-loved orchestras as: The Dallas Symphony and The Los Angeles Opera (who shall premier Alexander’s new opera in March 2012), The Las Vegas Philharmonic, also The National National Youth String Orchestra of Britain, Moscow’s New Opera orchestra, The St Petersburg National State Symphony Orchestra, The New World Symphony, The Royal Philharmonic in London, UK and many others.
In the summer of 2012, Alexander will be a conducting fellow at The Aspen festival of Music, and in the summer of 2010 Alexander was awarded The James Levine Conducting Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center/festival for the summer of 2010
In the 2009/2010 season, he served as an Assistant Conductor for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Within a few months Alexander had already lead the orchestra in an open rehearsal of Mahler's 4 th Symphony and conducted numerous youth and educational concerts. In this position he worked with conductors including Thomas Dausgaard, Robert Spano, Andrew Manze, Vassily Sinaisky, James Gaffigan, Itzhak Perlman and Ludovic Morlot.
As a composer, he has an enviable number of works to his name that span a variety of genres from chamber works to large-scale operas. Two of his most exciting current compositional projects are a new opera for Los Angeles Opera, who will premier this commission in March 2012, and a new symphony for The Dallas Symphony, which will be premiered in April 2012. At the age of 12, he was commissioned by the Moscow State Ballet to write Mowgli, which was soon premiered at the Kremlin to great international acclaim. He has since found his compositions premiered in some of the world’s greatest concert halls, most recently Horizons (2010) at London’s Barbican with The Royal Philharmonic and ‘Gogol’ (2009), his 4th symphony, with the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra and Choir. His 6th symphony will be premiered in April or 2012 with The Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He has also seen the premieres of Svyatogor’s Quest (at the Wigmore Hall with the Sitkovetsky Trio) and the world premiere UK tour of his choral cantata, Sounds of the Homeland.
Alexander made his UK conducting debut with The National Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican in March 2007, receiving an immediate re-invitation to conduct the orchestra in April 2008.
Other highlights include concerts with The Northern Sinfonia, the result of a re-invitation after music broadcast from Channel 4 UK; conducting The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at The Barbican, London, including his own music, and music by John Adams, work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and concerts with The New World Symphony in Miami – sharing the stage with Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas.
His ballet and operatic achievements are particularly impressive. In Russia, he has developed a close relationship conducting the Rubenstein Opera and Ballet and Cheboksary National Opera and Ballet where performances included La Traviata, The Tsar’s Bride, Dido and Aeneas, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Eugene Onegin. Recent collaborations also include Bolshoi Opera, Moscow State Ballet and Peking National Opera. Festival appearances include ‘Bethlehem Star’ Music Festival, St Petersburg and the International Opera Festival, Moscow.
His work with Opera and Ballet is now rapidly expanding throughout Europe and North America’s leading companies.
Alexander is the recipient of numerous Awards, including 2nd prize at the Leeds conducting competition at the age of 16, and before that the International Prokoffiev Composition Competition. He was in the top six in the Mahler conducting competition 2010.
In Russia he was awarded The Order of The Blue Cross, for his contribution to the national and international arts scene, and for his charitable work within music, bringing music and the opportunities it offers to countless people, particularly children and teenagers in the poorest areas of the country.
He has also received the Patriarch of Russia's Cultural Award for his services to the arts.
One of Alexander's priorities is outreach, working with and bringing the joys of music to young people, and to those who otherwise would not have been exposed to it.
Alexander is dedicated to working with young musicians, and has conducted both Youth orchestras and Youth Opera companies and is often give talks/workshops for young people and is regularly asked to adjudicate for young performer and youth orchestras competitions.
In 2009, at just 17, Alexander graduated with Distinction two Masters-Degrees in Symphonic and Operatic Conducting, and in Composition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, studying opera and symphonic conducting with Alexander Alexeev and composition with Anatoly Korolev.
• “When ever before has one heard this music played so finely as in the interpretation of Alexander Prior (with The German Chamber Orchestra)?”
• “Prior is on the express track for a potentially meteoric rise… Unlike many conductors, he avoided the trap of sentimentalizing the love music and, near the end, he drew an amazing organ-like sonority out of the winds during the entombment and death scene… drawing out all the febrile intensity in the score” The Berkshire Living Magazine
• “Prior is an absolute professional… no longer a Wunderkind, He is on the way to being a Wonder-adult”.
• “Surely one of the world’s most recognized, talked-about, admired, thrilling and loved young conductors”
The Norwegian State Radio
• "The light lifting of (Strauss’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme) was addressed with brio and humor, and the orchestra and crowd loved him!... Prior brought forth in the gracious “Entrance of Cleonte” an unusual hymn-like string ensemble…(In the Finale) Prior’s conducting accurately and expressively characterized the stiff formalities, martial posturing, and churlish children, cooking up a mouth-watering array of savories...."
The Boston Musical Intelligencer
• “…(the Strauss) was conducted with wit and panache”
Andrew Pincus, The Berkshire Eagle
• “I must report that he’s a rather good conductor… his four years of conducting studies at the St Petersburg Conservatory have given him a sophisticated technique”.
Richard Morrison, The Times
• “Britain’s teenage conducting phenomenon!”
Adam Sweeting, Telegraph
• “...one of the most exciting prospects we’ve seen for long time”
The Yorkshire Post
• “Prior's movements seemed to will the sun to rise… Prior and the musicians gave it a wild life, from infectiously toe-tapping to explosive…”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Julia Osborne.
If you would like to buy Alexander's CDs and DVDs - click here