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"Like a Giant on the podium."

Fergus McAlpine (born 1994 in Newcastle, UK) is a recent graduate of the prestigious Dutch Nationale Master Orkestdirectie through the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, having previously completed his undergraduate conducting studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2018. 2022-2023 saw him perform the première tours of Michel can der Aa’s newest composition, “The Book of Water”, together with Ensemble Modern at the Biennale di Venezia and Amsterdam Sinfonietta, in a tour of the Netherlands and Belgium; and April 2023 he won the 2nd Prize at the Facchinetti Conducting Competition for Contemporary Music. He has previously performed with the Dutch National Opera, Noord Nederlands Orkest, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Oper Köln, and returned to the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble, where he previously stood in at short notice for the late Reinbert de Leeuw. Highlights of the 2023-24 season include his Concertgebouw debut, with the orchestra of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, his return to the Dedalo Ensemble (Brescia, Italy) and assisting Adès’ “Powder her Face” with the Nederlandse Reisopera.

Fergus is the founder and Artistic Director of the Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra [ZCO], an ensemble that specialises in lesser-known repertoire. Together with the ensemble he has performed and recorded a number of works by Zemlinsky, Schoenberg, Gustav & Alma Mahler, Schubert, Gershwin, Debussy, among others. His recording of Lili Boulanger’s “D’un Matin de Printemps” featured in the 2023 International Film Festival Rotterdam, and later this year the orchestra will go on tour with a programme of Mahler’s 5th Symphony, with works by Michel van der Aa and Robin de Raaff.

Aside from conducting, Fergus has made a name for himself as an arranger of music. September 2023 will see the première of his version of Korngold’s Opera, “Das Wunder der Heliane”, being performed by the Nederlandse Reisopera and Noord Nederlands Orkest (published by Schott). He has also had works commissioned by Ensemble Kontraste, the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and has had works performed at the 2023 Tanglewood Festival and by Cantare Trondheim.

In 2019 he was a participant in the 10th conducting masterclass with David Zinman and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and has also had conducted the Netherlands Philharmonic, Phion Orkest, the Stavanger and Trondheim Symphony Orchestras, Residentie Orkest Den Haag and the Ulster Orchestra. He has also assisted the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Münchner Symphoniker, Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Dutch National Ballet.

Fergus was the recipient of the James Conlon Conducting Prize at the 2017 Aspen Music Festival and has been mentored by Ed Spanjaard, Kenneth Montgomery, Jac van Steen, Robert Spano, Peter Eötvös, Jorma Panula, Vasily Petrenko, Markus Stenz and Dame Jane Glover, among others.

Passionate about opera, in 2018 Fergus conducted BrittenAlbert Herring with the Norwegian National Opera Academy and the following year conducted Judith WeirBlond Eckbert with the Dutch National Opera Academy, having stood in last minute for Ed Spanjaard. He also assisted the Holland Festivals production of StockhausenDonnerstag aus Licht in 2019. During the first isolation period in 2020, Fergus co-founded the Quarantine Opera: a virtual opera company that created online performances and connected musicians together during lockdown, all of whom performed from their own homes. The project reached worldwide success, connecting over 200 musicians from 50 countries, spanning over 6 continents, and the first three performances reached over 1.5 million views on social media.

Prior to conducting, Fergus started his career as a bassoonist, and studied at Chethams School of Music. By the time he was 18, he was the first ever pre-conservatoire soloist to have performed for the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was principal bassoon of the National Youth Orchestra, where he performed 3 times at the BBC Proms. He has also performed at the Royal Wigmore Hall and at Buckingham Palace for the British Royal Family.

Watch Fergus


Kammersymphonie (Quartet No. 2, Op. 15, arr. Richard Dünser)
Fergus McAlpine / Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra


D’un matin de Printemps
Fergus McAlpine / Zemlinsky Chamber Orchestra


Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” (Excerpt)
Fergus McAlpine / Orchestra of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Download Repertoire

To find out more, please download Fergus’ repertoire in PDF format.

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