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St Andrews Advanced Conducting Course


St Andrews Advanced Conducting Course

Director: Sian Edwards

Course Pianist: John Longstaff

Thursday 30 May – Sunday 2 June 2019, Younger Hall, St Andrews

The University of St Andrews welcomes emerging conductors of all ages and nationalities to study with Honorary Professor of conducting Sian Edwards. The class will be made up of eight participants; each participant will receive 120 minutes of podium time over the course of the weekend.


Younger Hall, North St

St Andrews, KY16 9AJ


Thursday 30 May

1700-1900 – introductions and welcome

1900 – course participants' dinner

Friday 31 May                      

1000-1300 with piano

1400-1700 with piano

1900-2100 review of video footage

Saturday 1 June                 

1000-1300 with piano

1400-1700 with piano

1900-2100 review of video footage

Sunday 2 June                    

1000-1200  Bartok with orchestra

1200-1400 Mozart with orchestra

15000-1700 Stravinsky with orchestra

Course fees:  £490

A bursary may be available to an outstanding young conductor(s); please include any details in your application.

Travel and accommodation:

Participants should arrange their own travel and accommodation; see for details. 


Mozart Symphony No. 39

Bartok Divertimento

Stravinsky Octet

The orchestra will comprise of established professional musicians drawn primarily from Scotland's national orchestras.  Participants should bring their own video equipment if they wish to take video footage home with them. Participants should also supply their own scores. 


Applications close on Friday 22 March, 2019. To apply email Bede Williams the following:

-Name, address and contact number

-Current CV and biography

-Link to a video of you conducting, this can be to a YouTube/Vimeo etc, or a dropbox link to an MP4 file or similar. 

-If applying for a bursary, details of any financial hardship. 

Sian Edwards will review all applications. Participants will be announced by Friday 12 April. Payment of full fees is due by Friday 26 April. Conductors not selected for the advanced course may wish to attend the conducting day taught by Bede Williams and Gillian Craig, see the bottom of this page for details.

2016 Participants: Lucia Camacho Acevedo – Spain; Cole Bendall – Scotland; Raffaele de Giacometti – Italy; Danila Grassi – Italy; Grant Harville – USA; Samuel Kjellberg – USA; Stefano Nigri – Italy; Johannes Polzhofer – Germany


2017 Participants: Christopher Tran - Colorado, USA; Peter Bogaert - The Hague; Jimena Camona - Buenos Aires; Samantha Reagan - London; Annalena Hosel - Hamburg; Gregor Forbes - Edinburgh; Teresa Riveiro Bohm - Vienna; Sam Burstin - London; Kate Freeman – Australia; Alec Frank-Gemmill – Scotland; Anthony White – Scotland; Gordon Duncan – Scotland

2018 Participants: Michael Coleby – UK, Santiago Piñeros-Serrano – Colombia/UK, Percy Leung – Hong Kong/UK, Mason Lubert – USA/Vienna, Musashi Baba – Japan/Germany, Benedikt Sauer – Germany, Will Padfield – UK, Alec Frank-Gemill – UK, Marco Giudici – UK, Leslie Stevenson – UK


2019 Participants: Felix  Schauren – Germany, Jera Petriček Hrastnik – Vienna/Slovenia, Matthew Rhodes– UK, Chan Oi-ching– HK, Kingsley Lin – Taiwan/UK, Sofia Presta – UK/Italy, Rita Espinosa –  Mexico, Joshua Quinlan – UK, Marco Giudici – UK, Charlotte Whittle – UK, Peter Warren – UK, Aisling Agnew – UK, Ellie Steemson – Uk


Sian Edwards – course director

Sian has worked with many of the world’s leading orchestras including Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland, Orchestre de Paris, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Berlin Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig, Vienna Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta. She has a particularly close relationship with Ensemble Modern in Germany.

She made her operatic debut in 1986 conducting Weill’s Mahagonny for Scottish Opera and her Royal Opera House debut in 1988 with Tippett’s The Knot Garden. From 1993 to 1995 she was Music Director of English National Opera for whom her repertoire included KhovanshchinaJenufaQueen of Spades and Blond Eckbert (also recorded on Collins). For the Glyndebourne Festival she has conducted La Traviata and the Ravel Double Bill, and for Glyndebourne Touring Opera Katya Kabanova and Tippett’s New Year. She conducted the world premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Greek at the Munich Biennale in 1988, and other operatic engagements have included the world premiere of Hans Gefors’ Clara for the Opéra Comique in Paris, Così fan tutte in Aspen, her return to Eugene Onegin at English National Orchestra and Don Giovanniin Copenhagen.

Sian’s recordings include Peter and the Wolf, Britten’s Young Person’s Guide and Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, all with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Judith Weir’s Blond Eckbert with English National Opera.

Recent concert engagements: performances with Ensemble Modern; Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich; SWR Sinfonieorchester Freiburg; Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Palestinian Youth Orchestra; London Sinfonietta; BBC National Orchestra of Wales; as well as performances at the Edinburgh International Festival and a tour of the UK with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Recent operatic engagements: The Rape of Lucretia and La traviata for the Theater an der Wien; Orlando, a new ballet, for the Staatstheater Stuttgart; The Rake’s Progress for Scottish Opera; Ades’ The Tempestfor Oper Frankfurt; and a concert performance of Tippett’s King Priam at the Brighton Festival.

She has also recently contributed to a new film by Tony Palmer on Holst.

John Longstaff – course pianist

John Longstaff read music at Girton College, Cambridge, studied conducting with George Hurst, Edward Downes and Vilem Tausky, and came second to Martyn Brabbins in the 1988 Leeds Conductors Competition. He 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 orchestrator, arranger and conducting teacher, not to mention occasional composer: his new children’s ballet Goldilocks and the Three Bears went on a national tour with Northern Ballet throughout the 2016-17 season and has been shown on CBeebies television. 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 made his conducting début with English National Ballet in 2009. Apart from teaching privately he works at the Sherborne Summer School of Music and for Practical Conducting Workshops Ireland.

Conducting Workshop

On Saturday 1 June 1000-1300 there will be a workshop for conductors working in music education or community music with Gillian Craig and Bede Williams. Sessions will be entirely hands-on with each conductor receiving a minimum of 30 minutes podium time each day with a small ensemble. As well as receiving feedback whilst on the podium, participants will also benefit from video review sessions in which they will receive (and observe) teaching on physical gesture and rehearsal technique. To register for this course please email Bede Williams

The fee for this workshop is £50, which includes entry as an observer for the Advanced Conducting Course. 

Gillian Craig 

Gillian Craig has worked at the University of St Andrews Music Centre since its opening in the early 1990's: initially as Principal Teacher, then as Acting Director (1994-95 and 2007-08) and Associate Teacher of clarinet and saxophone. In 2008 she was appointed Music Consultant with special responsibility to promote the teaching of conducting, and she also teaches practical options within the academic music modules. For the Music Centre, she conducts the new St Andrews and Fife Community Orchestra (StAFCO) and the Youth Choir; she is also musical director of Stirling City Choir, Crail Festival Orchestra, and her own professional orchestra, the Heisenberg Ensemble.

Bede Williams 

Bede studied conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and at international conducting masterclasses. As Head of Instrumental Studies at the University of St Andrews he teaches a broad range of practical modules and contributes to the department’s music history and theory foundation modules. As the New Music Co-ordinator he directs a range of student ensembles with an emphasis on programming music by living composers. Beyond the University he has a wide range of conducting experience that includes professional, youth and community orchestras as well as choirs and bands. For more information see


'I felt very well taken care of. All of you created a really positive environment to learn and to try things out in a relaxed, but also challenging environment.'

'Thanks for being so generous with your time and experience. The conducting day in a sense was perfect as I was able to conduct and also got so much out of being able to stay and watch Sian and the others.'

'I honestly have to say that everything was beyond expectation and that I got so much out of my three days! All of you were so kind, helpful and have made me feel so welcome, as well as being amazingly good teachers. Observing Sian, John and the other students also inspired me greatly: I will work to my best in the year ahead and I will try to make it onto the advanced course next time! This experience has given me the confidence to positively look forward to my next course in Sherborne this summer.'

'Sian is a great teacher because she is a great observer and has individual solutions for every problem. I was really impressed by looking to my video and seeing how she was able to change me (as well as me colleagues) in a session of 20 minutes.'