Jason Thornton is now in his fifteenth season as Music Director of Bath Philharmonia. During this time he has conducted a huge range of repertoire and worked with some of the world’s greatest soloists. He has also overseen the artistic development of the orchestra, which is now regarded as one of the premiere orchestral ensembles in the South West.
As a guest conductor in the UK he has worked with the Royal Philharmonic, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, The Halle, Philharmonia Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Chorus. Abroad he has conducted the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Kaposvar Symphony Orchestra (Hungary), Jyvaskyla Sinfonia (Finland), Cyprus State Chamber Orchestra and the North West Symphony Orchestra (USA). In recent seasons he has collaborated with numerous international singers and instrumentalists, including Renée Fleming, Joseph Calleja, Sumi Jo, Sir Willard White, Patricia Rozario, Sarah Connolly, Sophie Bevan, Nicola Benedetti, Natalie Clein, Peter Donohoe, Michael Collins, Stephen Hough, Joanna MacGregor, Raphael Wallfisch, Craig Ogden, Jennifer Pike and Alexandra Dariescu.
In recent seasons he has acted as Music Director of Cooper Hall’s Emerging Opera Artists programme, working with many of Britain’s finest young singers, in productions of Britten’s Turn of the Screw (2013), Humperdinck Hansel & Gretel (2014) and most recently Mozart Cosi fan Tutte (2015).
In 2014 Jason recorded his critically acclaimed debut disc for the English Music Label including premiere recordings of music by Cornish composers George Lloyd and Judith Bailey. In 2015 the English Music Label released his second disc in another premiere recording of music by composer Steven Faux. In 2016 he made his debut at the English Music Festival.
Jason also has a passion for working with youth orchestras and is a regular guest conductor with National Schools Symphony Orchestra. He has also guest conducted Bristol Schools Philharmonia, Bath School Philharmonic and Somerset Youth Orchestra. Future plans for 2017 include a return to the Bath International Music Festival, the Rodrigo Guitar Concerto with Craig Ogden, Shostakovich Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.3 with Peter Donohoe in the Brian Roper Memorial Concert, and a programme of Schubert Death and the Maiden, Mahler Kindertotenlieder, and Fauré Requiem to round off the season.
Chorus Master & Conductor
George Bevan was a chorister at St Mary’s Warwick where he had his first organ lessons with Paul Trepte. A scholarship to the Royal College of Music enabled him to continue his organ studies with Richard Popplewell and later Timothy Bond. Whilst at the RCM he won all of the major prizes for organ playing.
As a student he held the post of organist at St James’s Muswell Hill, and it was here that he discovered a passion for directing choral music and for teaching which has remained with him ever since. He has held teaching posts at Pangbourne College, Rugby School and Wycombe Abbey, and since 2009 he has been Director of Music at Monkton Combe School near Bath.
George has worked with numerous choirs, and is a firm believer that anyone can sing. Monkton’s Choir who can’t sing has been an extraordinary project which has transformed singing in the school as a whole, and which continues to build the confidence of many individual pupils. George has also run a choir with the Genesis Trust in Bath, and the Monkton Combe Choral Society, founded in 2010, is now a vibrant choir of 100+ voices.
George writes a blog at www.musicatmonkton.com
Joanna Wiesner has had a lifetime in music and the theatre. Trained for opera, she sang many roles, spent some years acting in theatre and then pursued a career in administration, running exhibitions, study tours and events in the UK and USA. In later years, she took to choral singing and to managing classical concerts and was for eight years the administrator and concert manager for the professional orchestra Bath Philharmonia. She has managed well over 150 classical concerts in Bath and the southwest, including the first classical concert in the Eden Project, working with such soloists as Sir Willard White, Sumi Jo, Joseph Calleja, Rosa Mannion, Rebecca Evans, Lynne Dawson, Amanda Roocroft, Gavin Carr, James Oxley, Crispian Steele-Perkins, Michael Collins, Tasmin Little, Peter Donohoe, Joanna MacGregor, Natalie Klein, Nicola Benedetti, Tim Hugh, and with many orchestras including The English Chamber Orchestra, The London Mozart Players, The City of London Sinfonia, The National Youth Orchestra, Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and of course Bath Philharmonia, where her first major project as administrator was the massive Mahler’s Symphony No.8 in Bath’s Green Park Station, with a chorus of 650, including the London Philharmonic Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, and an orchestra of 150.
Secretary and events manager of Bath Minerva Choir since its formation in 1994, she also manages the acclaimed South West Festival Chorus. This very successful chorus promotes Summer and Winter Schools for singers drawn from a wide area, performing challenging choral works in Bath Abbey and Wells Cathedral, as well as touring overseas, most recently to Germany, Paris and China. Joanna also finds time to perform occasionally in films and TV.
In the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Joanna was awarded an MBE for services to music and the arts in Bath.