Head of Strings
“He not only brings that dedicated scholarly view of playing characteristic of period instrument specialists, but he plays with such huge commitment. He is a great inspiration to me, especially in Mozart.”
Sir Charles Mackerras, BBC Music Magazine
“…admirable continuo and solo cellist and now also a conductor”
Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Music in the Castle of Heaven
“Hushed and flawless Bach…”
“Watkin’s tastes are catholic…. [he has] a passionate belief in the juxtaposition of scholarship and musicianship“
Grove Dictionary of Music
As Principal Cello in some of the world’s leading ensembles – English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – David Watkin has played a key role at the heart of some ground-breaking performances.
He has made a wide range of solo recordings: of Vivaldi (Hyperion) Beethoven (Chandos) and Francis Pott (Guild), Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante with OAE (Virgin), Schubert Quintet with the Tokyo Quartet (hmusa). He has been a soloist at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York and performed the Schumann Concerto with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and ORR at Lincoln Center, New York. As a guest artist he has collaborated with, among others, Robert Levin and Fredericka von Stade.
He has played solo Bach at Bach’s birthplace in Eisenach, at Frederick the Great’s Palace, in the Prague Spring Festival and featured in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s TV programme “Bach, A Passionate Life”. He has twice been a juror for the Leipzig Bach Competition. David’s recording of Bach’s Cello Suites won both a Gramophone Award and a BBC Music Magazine Award. It was one of three recordings included alongside Casals’ in Gramophone’s list of “The 50 Greatest Bach Recordings”.
As a member of the Eroica Quartet he has performed all over Europe and the US and their recordings of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Debussy and Ravel have received great acclaim.
He read Music at Cambridge whilst studying the cello with William Pleeth and singing with Kenneth Bowen. He was a Shell/LSO Finalist, received the Bulgin Medal and was Principal cello in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Conducting is now a major part of his music making.
He has conducted groups including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Malta Philharmonic, the Swedish Baroque Orchestra, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Manchester Consort and has been Assistant Conductor at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He conducted Mahler’s First Symphony with the European Union Youth Orchestra at European Forum Alpbach and completed a cycle of Brahms Symphonies with the Meadows Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted ensembles at the Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music, the Royal Welsh College and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.