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Rory Macdonald

  • Instrument Conductor
Rory Macdonald

One of the brightest stars of the younger generation of conductors, Rory Macdonald’s career was launched following assisting roles with Ivan Fischer, Mark Elder and Antonio Pappano. Equally at home on the concert platform and in the opera house, he draws out distinctive interpretations of classical and romantic repertoire, and brings passion and intellectual insight to contemporary scores.

Recent guest conducting engagements have included the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, Royal Scottish National, Bergen Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Wiener KammerOrchester, Nagoya Philharmonic, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Adelaide Symphony, Queensland Symphony, West Australian Symphony, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, BBC Scottish Symphony and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Future orchestral debuts include the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Essen Philharmonic and Japan Century Symphony Orchestras. In summer 2015, Macdonald tours China with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland with performances at the Shanghai Grand Theatre and Beijing Concert Hall, amongst others.

In December 2013, Macdonald stood in for Mariss Jansons for two concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing and at the Sydney Opera House, marking the end of the orchestra’s Asia and Australia section of its world tour celebrating its 125th anniversary. He returns to give two family concerts with the orchestra in autumn 2015.

Macdonald has also built up an extensive operatic repertoire and is in demand in some of the world’s leading opera houses. Following his highly successful North American debut with the Canadian Opera Company, Macdonald made his US debut that autumn at Lyric Opera of Chicago, conducting a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and he returns to the house in 2016/17. Subsequent US debuts have included new productions of The Rape of Lucretia at Houston Grand Opera (where he returned for Carmen in 2014) and Die Zauberflöte at San Francisco Opera. In 2014 he made his debut at Santa Fé Opera conducting Carmen (where he will return in 2016/17).

In Europe, Macdonald has conducted Il barbiere di Siviglia and Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, (where he has also conducted Fidelio, Das Rheingold, Owen Wingrave, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Orphée (Philip Glass) and he also opened English National Opera’s 2011/12 season with The Elixir of Love. In spring 2014 he conducted Britten The Turn of the Screw for the Vienna Konzerthaus with a cast including Mark Padmore, and in spring 2015 he made his debut with the Royal Danish Opera in Die Zauberflöte. Future operatic highlights include Così fan tutte with Oper Frankfurt, Die Zauberflöte with Opera Australia and Ariadne auf Naxos with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Rory Macdonald studied music at Cambridge University, and plays violin and piano. While at university he studied under David Zinman and Jorma Panula at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. After graduation from Cambridge he was appointed assistant conductor to Iván Fischer at the Budapest Festival Orchestra (2001-2003), and to Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra (2006-2008). He was also a member of the Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House (2004-2006), where he worked closely with Antonio Pappano on major projects such as the complete Ring cycle, and conducted performances of several operas.

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Symphony Series

Tragedy to Triumph

Adelaide Town Hall

Fri 12 Aug & Sat 13 Aug 2022

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Tragedy to Triumph

If a searing personal experience can be transformed into an extraordinary work of art, the result is Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony, created in the shadow of Stalin’s Russia.


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Matinee Concerts


Elder Hall

Wed 19 Oct 2022

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Along with moments that float like a feather on the breeze, Haydn’s concerto has a finale that make you want to kick up your heels!

Session Wed 19 Oct 2022, 11:30am

Rehearsals Unwrapped


Adelaide Town Hall

Wed 26 Oct 2022

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Let the ASO take you on a fun-filled guided tour of the music you know and love, in the company of charismatic conductor and host Guy Noble.

Session Wed 26 Oct 2022, 9:30am

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