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Image of Peter Whelan taken in rehearsal, smiling with fingers poised ready to direct the next section.

Peter Whelan 

Artistic Director, Irish Baroque Orchestra

Olivier award-winner Peter Whelan is among the most dynamic and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor and director. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra as well as Curator for Early Music of Norwegian Wind Ensemble. Peter is an acclaimed solo artist with an extensive and award-winning discography as a solo bassoonist.

As conductor, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque and Classical eras. Recent engagements have included appearances with English Concert, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Netherlands Chamber Orchestre, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Oulu Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg.

The beginning of 22-23 season saw Peter conducting Vivaldi’s seldom performed ‘Bajazet’ with Irish National Opera. This production was met with outstanding reviews and the production won an Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’. In November/December he made his debut at San Francisco Opera, conducting Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Other recent opera productions have included Marriage of Figaro, Magic Flute and Acis and Galatea with Irish National Opera and Handel’s Radamisto with English Touring Opera.

Orchestral highlights of the 23-24 season include Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Dunedin Consort, la festa musicale, Meininger Hofkapelle and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra. Peter returns to Irish National Opera to conduct a production of Vivaldi’s rarely performed ‘l’Olimpiade’ in May 2024.

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, 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’s 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) and “phenomenally energetic direction” (Artsdesk). As a champion of early music, Peter represents “the very best of contemporary trends in bringing this music to life: flex and zest with tempi, lithe and vigorous ... an incredible alertness to colors and moods summoned by the cut-and-thrust harmonic footwork of this music” (Operawire).

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