Biography

“An excellent conductor” BBC Music Magazine

David Curtis is the founder and Artistic Director of Orchestra of the Swan, one of the most successful chamber orchestras in the UK.  Under his leadership for over twenty years, Orchestra of the Swan now has an annual programme of over 40 concerts, international touring and recording.  In 2016-17 the orchestra tours Mexico and recently performed in the Istanbul International Music Festival with leading Turkish actress Tilbe Saran.  David’s recordings with OOTS are frequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, USA and Canadian public radio and throughout Europe. 

For the recent Shakespeare 400 celebrations David conducted the world premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova’s oratorio ‘Immortal Shakespeare’ live for BBC Radio 3 and conducted for artists from the Royal Ballet in ‘Shakespeare Lives!’, which was broadcast live on BBC 2 and relayed to cinemas in the UK, Europe and the USA.


David has recently been appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra from October 2016 and will also conduct the Danubia Orchestra Óbuda this season.   In December 2016 he returned to the Moores’ School of Music, Houston to teach and conduct and in February 2017 he conducts the American premiere of David Matthews’ piano in Carnegie Hall, New York.

“fine work under the able leadership of David Curtis” Fanfare Magazine, USA

David’s discography includes repertoire by Barber, Arnold Bax, Berlioz, Copland, Elgar, Finzi, Gershwin, Daren Hagen, John Ireland, Mahler, Mozart, Robert Saxton and Vaughan Williams for MSR Classics, Naxos, Signum Classics and Somm and the world première recording of the Robert Stark clarinet concertos with Dimitri Ashkenazy and the Hamburger Symphoniker.  Future releases include the Shostakovich piano concertos with Peter Donohoe for Signum and a CD of concertos for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon by Simon Proctor.

His recording of the Mendelssohn D minor violin concerto with Tamsin Waley-Cohen was recently BBC Music Magazine’s recommended recording.

“a reassuringly calm yet always encouraging and cajoling presence”  The Gramophone

David’s thought-provoking programming, infectious enthusiasm and refreshing interpretations have enabled him to develop an active international career, working in Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA.  He has worked with orchestras such as the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Prague Chamber Orchestra and Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.  With the Moravská filharmonie Orchestra and Festival Chorus, he appeared in the prestigious Olomouc Dvorak Festival and the Policka Martinu Festival.

“Curtis’s conducting, is close to Boult’s, if more intimate, and slightly more perceptive” The American Record Guide

David champions new work and has commissioned and premiered at least 70 works by British, Bulgarian, Chinese, Nordic and American composers including Oscar i Bosch, Douglas Cuomo, Joe Cutler, Tansy Davies, Joseph Duddell, Daron Hagen, Peter Lieuwen, Paul Patterson, Joe Phibbs, Julian Philips, Dobrinka Tabakova, Param Vir, Andrew Waggoner, Errollyn Wallen, Shu Wang and John Woolrich.

For Icelandic Radio he conducted premieres by Snorri Sigfús Birgisson, Lars-Petter Hagen, Thuridur Jónsdottir and Marie Samuelsson in the Nordic Music Days Festival and gave the world premiere of a new work by Sampo Haapamäki with the Mikkeli City Orchestra.  

“warmly sympathetic support from David Curtis” Classic Fm Magazine 5 *****

From 1977 – 2007 David was viola player in the Coull String Quartet, one of the UK’s most highly regarded ensembles with whom he toured Europe, the Far East, Australia, North and South America.  With the Coull Quartet he gave over 250 broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and recorded over 25 CDs including the complete quartets by Mendelssohn and Schubert.



David is passionate about the power of music to enrich and transform people’s lives, both on and off the concert platform.  He has commissioned three operas for special schools, developed a “relaxed” concert format for families with children who have autism, and pioneered programmes for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Off the podium David is a keen runner, cyclist and swimmer, and on 23 April 2017 (Shakespeare’s birthday), he runs the London Marathon raising funds for Orchestra of the Swan 21st Anniversary campaign, supporting people living with dementia. David’s target is £10,000, he’ll do all the training and running, all we ask from you is to sponsor him via the banner below.
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