Sherborne

Summer School of Music

2024

The George Hurst Conductors’ Course : Biographies

Rodolfo Saglimbeni returned to live in his native Venezuela in 1987 to become one of its leading conductors. He studied at the RAM (where he won many prizes) with Colin Metters, George Hurst and John Carewe and in Rome with Franco Ferrara. He was first runner-up at the Besançon International Competition for Conductors and also won fellowships from the British Council and the Philharmonia Chorus. He was Associate Conductor of the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra and is the founder and Artistic Director of the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho Symphony Orchestra.


He is currently the Artistic Director of the Caracas Municipal Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela and Principal Conductor of the National Orchestra of Chile. Rodolfo’s concerts are regularly broadcast. He has conducted symphonic, operatic and ballet repertoire extensively in Italy, Spain, France, the USA, and many South American countries, including his debut at the legendary Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires. His recordings on CD and radio are extensive and include the works of many Latin American composers. He was professor of conducting at UNEARTE University in Caracas and the Mozarteum School.


As a founder member of “El Sistema” in Venezuela, he has been tutor and advisor in conducting for many young conductors, including Gustavo Dudamel. Apart from his main conducting activities, Rodolfo organises seminars for conducting students of professional and youth orchestras and with many important Universities in Europe and South America including the Diploma Conducting Course at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina.


A native of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, Robert Houlihan lived in Metz, France from 1981 until 2002. There he conducted at the Municipal Theatre as well as frequent guest appearances with the l’Orchestre National de Lorraine, l’Orchestre de Chambre de Metz and his own ‘Nouvel Ensemble Instrumental’. He became a French citizen in 1988.  Robert was Principal Conductor of the Tirgu Mures Philharmonic in Romania and Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Savaria Symphony Orchestra in Hungary. His festival appearances have included the BBC Proms and the Almeida Festival, the Budapest Spring Festival, the Bartok Festival, the Amsterdam Summer Festival and the Wurzburg Mozart Festival.


He is renowned for his dedication to new music and is frequent in demand to conduct new contemporary works. His fine relationship with many of the world’s leading soloists include Maxim Vengerov, Olivier Charlier, Javier Camarena, Rebecca Olvera, Lesley Garret, Istvan Ruha, Miklos Perenyi, Patrick Gallois, Joaquin Achucarro and John O Conor. Robert has many recordings to his name including the works of several major Irish composers. His reputation as a teacher is legendary and he is much in demand giving masterclasses around the world including most recently classes in Ireland, the UK, France, Holland, Portugal and Hungary.


Robert returned to live in his native Ireland in 2002 where alongside his European commitments he frequently works as a guest conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the RTE Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.

Natalia Luis-Bassa is known as a passionate and dynamic conductor and an ardent advocate for the education of young musicians. Her work promoting the conductors’ craft and the availability of qualitied orchestral playing for young people is legendry and she believes that the provision of music education is a right that should be available to everyone.


Natalia’s musical studies started in the world famous ‘El Sistema’ in Venezuela. She read music at the University Institute of Musical Studies in Venezuela being the first person to obtain a degree in orchestral conducting. Further studies were undertaken at the Royal College of Music in the UK where she held the RCM Junior Fellowship in Opera Conducting. She has since gained a master’s degree from the University of Huddersfield.


She was a prize winner at the Maazel-Vilar Conductors’ Competition in New York and has since worked with orchestras in the UK and abroad including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfónica Venezuela, the South Bank Sinfonia and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. Her passion for youth music embraces positions with several County Youth Orchestras, both the National Youth Orchestras of Great Brittain and Scotland, the National Children’s Orchestra and as Principal Guest Conductor of the Oxford University Orchestra.


Natalia is currently on the conducting staff of the Royal College of Music and has been named Elgar Ambassador’ by the Elgar Society. She also works tirelessly alongside Nicola Benedetti in the national education project, ‘The Benedetti Foundation’.

John Longstaff read music at Girton College, Cambridge and studied conducting with George Hurst, Edward Downes and Vilem Tausky. He came second in the 1988 Leeds Conductors Competition and since then has held full time positions at the Opera House in Kiel, Germany and with Northern Ballet.   He has worked on projects with Sir Charles Mackerras, David Lloyd-Jones, John Pryce-Jones, Ivor Bolton and Richard Bonynge and is a sought-after composer, orchestrator, arranger and conducting teacher, as well as a pianist for conducting courses with Denise Ham and Sian Edwards. His children’s ballet Goldilocks and the Three Bears was shown on CBeebies television and on national tour with Northern Ballet.


He is also Director of Music at St. Peter’s Church in Harrogate and was until 2011 Artistic Director of the Sheffield Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake and Coppélia for English National Ballet. In 2019 he made a new English translation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. During lockdown his reduced orchestrations of ballet scores were played in several notable opera houses, including Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, L'Opéra National de Bordeaux and the Greek National Opera in Athens. In May 2023 he became Musical Director of the Kernow Philharmonic Orchestra in Cornwall.


George Hurst Conductors’ course details

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