Peter Whelan

Director & Harpsichord

Irish-born Peter Whelan is among the most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor, keyboardist and solo bassoonist. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas. Recent engagements have included appearances with English Concert, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, and the Academy of Ancient Music.

As conductor, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque era. Recent projects funded by The Arts Council (Ireland) and Creative Scotland involved recreating and staging live performances of choral and symphonic music from eighteenth-century Dublin and Edinburgh. This led to his award- winning disc ‘Edinburgh 1742’ for Linn Records and his 2017 reconstruction of the ‘Irish State Musick’ in its original venue of Dublin Castle.

Peter begins 2022 with a co-production between Irish National Opera and the Royal Opera House. Performances of Vivaldi’s Bajazet take place throughout Ireland in January, and at London’s Royal Opera House in February, featuring the Irish Baroque Orchestra. This season also sees Peter conduct Beethoven Orchester Bonn, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

As founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas, Peter has performed at Edinburgh International, Lammermuir, Göttingen Handel, Kilkenny Arts, Tetbury, Bath and Great Music in Irish Houses festivals. During their 2020 Wigmore Hall residency, The Telegraph described Ensemble Marsyas as ‘very possibly this country’s finest period group – led by Peter Whelan, they perform with wonderful élan, transmitting their total enjoyment’. Ensemble Marsyas has an impressive and award-winning discography with its disc of Barsanti being named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine in 2017 and ‘Recording of the Year’ in MusicWeb International 2017, as well as reaching second place in the Official UK Specialist Classical Chart.

Peter is “as exciting a live wire as Ireland has produced in the world of period performance” (Irish Times). His artistic direction in live performance and the recording studio has been widely praised for its “rich insight, style and charisma” (Guardian), its “stylish verve” (BBC Music Magazine), its “exuberance and elegance” (Irish Examiner), and its “slick tempi, grit and character” (Golden Plec).