Talented Wrexham conductor scales musical heights on global stage

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One of the UK’s most talented young orchestra conductors who conquered childhood deafness is scaling new musical heights on a global stage.

Robert Guy, 29, from Wrexham, was thrilled to learn he had been chosen from 300 candidates to take part in the prestigious 2017 Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition in Catalonia in Spain.

Conductor Robert Guy

The achievement is all the more remarkable because Robert could not hear a note when his grandmother started to teach him to play the piano at the age of three.

Now fully recovered, he has established the acclaimed Wrexham-base NEW Sinfonia Orchestra and is the Director of the Choral Programme at The University of Manchester.

His other claim to fame was leading the world famous Manchester Camerata orchestra in a recording of a haunting theme tune for Sony Playstation 4.

The conducting competition is recognised as one of classical music’s most prestigious events.

The winner gets the chance to conduct each of the competition’s 35 big name collaborating orchestras over the course of the next three years.

They include internationally renowned orchestras from Spain, Britain, Italy, France, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, and as far afield as Japan and Mexico.

Among them are the BBC Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Symphony Orchestra and the Resident Orchestra of The Hague, Netherlands.

Robert, who hails from Wrexham and now lives in Stockport, said: “It’s a golden opportunity which I know will be a fantastic experience.

Should he go on to win, it will push his conducting career forward immeasurably.

Past winners include Russian born Vasily Petrenko, now Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Gianandrea Noseda, the Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Robert is one of 60 young conductors from around the world selected to compete in the preliminary round on December 12 and 13.

Participants will be judged on their conducting skills of the Chamber Ensemble of the Cadaqués Orchestra and the full Cadaqués Orchestra in an event which will be broadcast live online by streaming video.

A maximum of 10 conductors will be chosen to go on to the final in Barcelona on December 15 when members of the Cadaqués Orchestra itself will be among the judges.

“The final actually takes place on my birthday, so depending on how I do, I’ll either be on an aeroplane flying home that day or in the spotlight conducting in the competition of my life!” laughed Robert.

Whatever happens he says he is grateful to have made it so far in his music career despite originally having to fight against the odds. When he was a child he was so deaf that he couldn’t hear the birds sing in his garden.

Doctors discovered his ear tubes were closed up and diagnosed him as 70 per cent deaf.

Nevertheless Robert’s music loving grandmother determinedly taught him to play the piano from a young age.

While still an infant he eventually had an operation to clear the tubes and open up amazing new sounds to him.

“It was exhilarating, music became my whole world and continues to be,” said Robert.

His natural talent shone through and he went on to become a star student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and Manchester University.

Since graduating his career has flourished and he has been described by royal composer Paul Mealor – whose motet was performed at Prince William’s wedding in 2011 – as being among the most skilled young conductors in Britain.

Robert is also Tutor in Conducting at the University of Huddersfield and he’s also busy with NEW Sinfonia which he founded with his musician brother, Jonathan.

He has guest conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker Ensemble, conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as part of the St Magnus International Festival and, in 2016, was a conductor in residence at the Inspire Arts Festival in South Korea.

This year is the 12th Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition which aims to promote and give a lift up to the careers of promising young conductors around the world.

This year the chairman of the competition jury will be Gianandrea Noseda, current principal conductor of the Cadaqués Orchestra and winner of the first prize in the 1994 competition.

Other members of the jury will be Annette Mangold, Director of Artistic Planning of the Berlin Philharmoniker; Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director, Barbican Centre; Lutz Köhler, Orchestral Conductor; Jaime Martín, Chief Conductor of the Cadaqués Orchestra; Jun-ichi Nihei, President COO Japan Arts Corporation; and the Cadaqués Orchestra itself.