Riley Court-Wood appointed new Leverhulme Conducting Fellow at RCS

Riley Court-Wood appointed new Leverhulme Conducting Fellow at RCS

Published: 28/04/2023

Following a selection process involving 150 global candidates, British-Canadian conductor Riley Court-Wood has been appointed as the new Leverhulme Conducting Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Black and white photo of conductor Riley Court-Wood standing against a brick wall, with his arms folded, holding a baton. He is smiling widely at the cameraThe Fellowship, in association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO), is for conductors on the cusp of their careers, offering a sought-after step in the journey between study and the professional podium.

Previous appointees include Teresa Riveiro Böhm, Welsh National Opera Associate Conductor and Associate Conductor of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra; Jessica Cottis, Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra; and Alvin Ho, Assistant Conductor of Florida’s Naples Philharmonic

Riley will work extensively with Martyn Brabbins – RCS’s Visiting Professor of Conducting and the Music Director of English National Opera – and will take up the role in September 2023, succeeding Emilie Godden.

Riley Court-Wood said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded the Leverhulme Fellowship at RCS. Joining the rich musical and cultural life of Glasgow will be a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to work with the talented students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Martyn Brabbins and other visiting artists.“Outside of the conservatoire, I know the experience of assisting some of the finest orchestras and ensembles in the country will lead to the next two years being a period of huge personal and professional growth for me. I want to thank Martyn Brabbins, the RCS faculty, including Michael Bawtree, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for this incredible opportunity.”

Riley was appointed after an intensive shortlisting process that saw ten conductors, from the UK, Finland, Austria, Italy, Poland, Holland, Greece and the USA, travel to Glasgow to work with Martyn Brabbins. The rigorous audition process saw them direct singers from the RCS Alexander Gibson Opera School, a small ensemble of professional musicians from Scotland’s orchestras, with the subsequent five finalists conducting the BBC SSO.

Martyn Brabbins, Visiting Professor of Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Following an intense and rewarding two-day audition process, involving ten highly talented young conductors, Riley Court-Wood emerged as the next Leverhulme RCS Conducting Fellow.

“His gracious music-making, warm personality and adaptability set him apart from the other candidates. We look forward to welcoming Riley into life at RCS and the BBC SSO, and I am excited to work with Riley as his conducting journey moves forward.”

Supported by a generous bursary from the Leverhulme Trust, Riley will be enabled and encouraged to build relationships with the array of conductors who visit Scotland each year to work with the national companies. Riley will also work with RCS teaching staff and visiting conductors, the Alexander Gibson Opera School, and with all the orchestras and ensembles within the Conservatoire.

Dr Gordon Munro, Director of Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “It was a pleasure to witness the culmination of the Leverhulme Conducting Fellowship auditions at City Halls with the finalists conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

“I was hugely impressed by Riley’s musicianship, his interaction with the players and his ability to quickly draw an individual sound-world from the orchestra. The links between the RCS and the BBC SSO go from strength to strength, and we look forward to welcoming Riley into the RCS family in September to be a key part of this relationship.”

Michael Bawtree, Conducting Lecturer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, commented: “We received 150 fellowship applications from conductors representing more than 30 nationalities and we were thrilled with the quality and diversity of this year’s applications. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is hugely grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for its continued support of the Conducting Fellowship and postgraduate conducting students.”

Dominic Parker, Director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, added: “This ongoing partnership between the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, under the guidance of Martyn Brabbins, is developing fantastic conducting talent. Riley Court-Wood shows extraordinary promise, and we look forward to welcoming him to Glasgow when he takes up the Leverhulme Fellowship.”

Following their studies, Leverhulme Conducting Fellows have gone on to grace concert stages across the globe. They include:

  1. Holly Mathieson, Music Director, Symphony Nova Scotia
  2. Simon Proust, Musical Director, Orchester des Jeunes du Centre
  3. Jiří Rožeň, Artistic Curator, Opera Nova, National Theatre Prague
  4. Joel Sandelson, Director and founder of Wond’rous Machine

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