Multi-talented IAN WATSON has been described by The Times in London as a “world-class soloist” and a keyboard performer of “virtuosic panache,” and by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “a conductor of formidable ability.” He is currently artistic director of Arcadia Players period instrument orchestra, music director of the Connecticut Early Music Festival, and was appointed associate conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society in September 2016.
Born in England in the Buckinghamshire village of Wooburn Common, Ian won a scholarship at age 14 to the Junior School of the Royal Academy of Music in London, later winning all the prizes for organ performance, including the coveted Recital Diploma. He completed his studies with Flor Peeters in Belgium. In 1993, in recognition of his services to music, he was honored with an associateship of the Royal Academy of Music. Ian’s first major appointment was as organist at St. Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, at the age of 19, a position he held for ten years. He also served as music director of the historic Christopher Wren Church, St. James’s Piccadilly.
Ian has appeared as soloist or conductor with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the Scottish, English, Polish, Irish and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, Bremen Philharmonisches Gesellschaft, Rhein-Main Symphony, Colorado Symphony, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Handel and Haydn Society, English Baroque Soloists, and The Sixteen, among many others. He has also been featured on many recordings and film soundtracks including Amadeus, Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden, Restoration, Cry the Beloved Country, Voices from A Locked Room, and the BBC‘s production of David Copperfield.
Ian has recently completed a major project with violinist Susanna Ogata, to record the ten Beethoven Violin Sonatas on the CORO label, using period instruments. The set has received extraordinary praise in Gramophone, The Strad, The New York Times, BBC Music Magazine, Fanfare Magazine and countless others, describing it as “revelatory” and
“groundbreaking.” His fortepiano recital at the 2016 Boston Early Music Festival was included in the top picks of the year by the Boston Musical Intelligencer. In honor of the Handel and Haydn Society’s 200th Anniversary in 2015, Ian conducted an outdoor performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Boston’s Copley Square, reaching approximately 6,000 people.