Jonathan Darlington is currently Music Director Emeritus of Vancouver Opera, having completed a highly successful term of almost 20 years as Music Director. He has led the innovative company in productions ranging from Mozart through Verdi, Puccini and Strauss to Tan Dun and Jake Heggie. He is fluent in several languages and, although born and educated in England, made his home several years ago in Paris.
Whether on the concert platform or in the opera house, the list of world-class ensembles that Jonathan Darlington has conducted is impressive. Most recently these include the Vienna Philhamonic at the Staatsoper, the Staatskapelle Dresden at the Semperoper, the Orchestre National de France, the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Paris Opera Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, L’Orchestre de Paris …….
Engagements in the immediate future see him return to the Wiener Staatsoper (Don Carlo, L’Elisir d’Amore, Madame Butterfly), the Semperoper Dresden (Iphigénie en Tauride and La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein), the Paris Opera (Le Parc) and Frankfurt Opera (Der Prinz von Homburg).
Jonathan possesses a vast symphonic and operatic repertoire from the Baroque to the Contemporary and has a reputation for structuring concert programs that take the listener on a fascinating musical journey owing to their strong inner dramaturgical thread.
Jonathan Darlington began his career as a freelance pianist, chamber musician and repetiteur. Born in Lapworth near Birmingham in England he was a cathedral chorister at Worcester Cathedral and went on a music scholarship to King’s School Worcester. He subsequently studied music at Durham University, (graduating with a BA honours degree), and then piano at The Royal Academy of Music in London.
After graduation he moved to Paris where, as a freelance pianist for Radio France, he worked with some of the most outstanding musical personalities of our time; Pierre Boulez – “Le Soleil des eaux”, Riccardo Muti – Verdi’s “Requiem”, Olivier Messiaen – “Trois Petites Liturgies” etc… His activities as an accompanist led him to work as a repetiteur – (Glyndebourne tour, L’Opéra de Nancy, Opera North) – and he became a founding member of the experimental French touring opera company ‘ARCAL’ for which he directed several productions.
During the same period he accompanied singing masterclasses at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Studies in Aldeburgh (England), where he worked with such renowned singers as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Ileana Cotrubas, Hugues Cuenod, Hans Hotter, Janet Baker and Peter Pears.
Jonathan Darlington made his conducting debut in 1984 at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, directing Francesco Cavalli’s “Ormindo” from the harpsichord. Whilst still essentially a keyboard player, an important stepping-stone in his conducting career was the Berlioz Festival in Lyon, initially as assistant to Serge Baudo for “Les Troyens” in 1987, and two years later to John Nelson for “Benvenuto Cellini”.
In 1990 Myung-Whun Chung engaged Jonathan as assistant and subsequently as deputy to the music director at the Paris Opera. It was there that he made his acclaimed debut in 1991 with “Le nozze di Figaro”, starring a dream cast which included Renee Fleming and Ferrucio Furlanetto. He remained with the Paris Opera as deputy music director until 1993, conducting productions of “Die Zauberflöte” and “Das Lied von der Erde”. His “Swan Lake” with the Paris Opera Ballet was recorded for video in 1992.
His success at the Paris Opera led to numerous engagements with other international orchestras and opera houses and he decided to return to the freelance world, this time as a conductor.
In 1996 he was invited to become part of the musical team at Deutsche Oper am Rhein (Düsseldorf – Duisburg) and in 2002 he was offered the position of Music Director of the Duisburger Philharmoniker. In the same year he also became Music Director of Vancouver Opera.
Jonathan enjoyed a hugely successful relationship with both ensembles. With the Duisburger Philharmoniker that success was rewarded when he received the German Music Publisher’s prize for the best concert season 2009 -10 together with the Echo Klassic prize for the best concerto recording (Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto) with Susanna Yoko-Henkel in 2011. The same year Jonathan Darlington received the ‘Mercartorplakette’ in recognition of his services to music and the cultural life of the city of Duisburg. The success of his tenure with the Duisburger Philharmoniker was subsequently rewarded when he became the recipient of the coveted “Musikpreis der Köhler-Osbar-Stiftung”. Past recipients include Yehudi Menuhin, Alfred Brendel, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Werner Henze, Krzysztof Penderecki, Pina Bausch etc.
Jonathan Darlington is both a “Laureate” (LRAM) and “Fellow” (FRAM) of the Royal Academy of Music, London and as a French resident is proud to hold the distinction of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Custom conducting batons by Craig C. Tomlinson
Craig C. Tomlinson began building folk instruments in late 1960s. In 1975, he was asked to work on a kit-based two-manual French Harpsichord for a Vancouver player. The challenge of this task opened up a new world for him. After building several more kit instruments, Tomlinson decided to build his own Harpsichords adopting the designs, materials and methods found in historical Harpsichords. The instruments he envisioned combined a balance between the tonal intricacies of the sound, a keyboard and action that responded perfectly to the player’s touch and an aesthetic beauty in its decoration. It also had to be a very stable, reliable instrument.
All of Tomlinson’s instrument designs, materials and structure are based on the surviving 17th and 18th Century Harpsichords from the French, Flemish, Italian and German schools of building. To ensure stability, he only uses well seasoned timbers of yellow poplar, German spruce, Swiss pear, Italian cypress and European beech along with logs of ebony, boxwood and holly.