George Vass is a versatile conductor whose repertory both in the concert hall and recording studio suggests a decided preference for contemporary and lesser known works by British composers. Indeed, he has made acclaimed recordings of music by Donald Tovey and contemporary composers Stephen Dodgson, Cecilia McDowall, and David Matthews. He has also introduced many new works by British composers at the Presteigne and Hampstead & HighgateRead more festivals, two important yearly events he has directed since 1992 and 2004, respectively. Here and in other venues Vass has premiered compositions by Adrian Williams, Hilary Tann, Adam Gorb, John McCabe, Rhian Samuel, Ian Wilson, and Hugh Wood. But Vass is not necessarily a contemporary music specialist: he has regularly conducted works by a vast array of composers, from Mozart and Beethoven to Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams, Bartók, Shostakovich, and many others. Vass has also made a number of recordings, many of which are available on the Dutton Labs, Epoch, and Toccata labels.
George Vass was born May 9, 1957, in Walsall, Staffordshire. He studied music first at the Birmingham Conservatory, then at the Royal Academy of Music, where his three-fold focus was percussion, conducting, and composition. Vass abandoned percussion performance by the mid-'80s and in 1989 both assembled an orchestra for the Presteigne Festival and became the ensemble's director.
From 1992 Vass has served as the festival director, handling an array of duties: commissioning and conducting many new works as well as more traditional fare, selecting artists for concert performance, and procuring funding. In 1994 Vass made his first recording, an acclaimed album of works by Vaughan Williams, Delius, Elgar, Holst, and Warlock on the Medici-Whitehall label. Over the years Vass would also freelance as a conductor, leading important ensembles both at home and abroad, including the London Mozart Players, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Ulster Orchestra, Konzertensemble Salzburg, Amsterdam's Promenade Orkest, Malmö Opera Orchestra, and Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra. Vass has also conducted over BBC radio and television. Since 2004 Vass' schedule has been particularly full with his additional duties as director of the Hampstead & Highgate Festival. The busy Vass also serves as music director of the Bushey Symphony Orchestra (Hertfordshire), City of Canterbury Chamber Choir, and St. Albans Choral Society. His recordings include the 2007 Epoch CD entitled From Sea to Sky, which offers a solid collection of orchestral works by David Matthews. Read less
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