Huw Rhys James
Huw Rhys James completed a degree in German and Political Science at the University of Bristol prior to studying composition, piano and conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. He began his career as a concert pianist before taking up an appointment as répétiteur and conductor at the Linz Landestheater, where he was also assistant chorus director. In 1994 he moved to the Vienna Volksoper, where his conducting engagements included The Consul and L’elisir d’amore. In 2002 he took a teaching position at the Music and Arts University of Vienna where he teaches opera. His repertory as a conductor extends from the Baroque to the present day.
In 1996 and 1997 he was assistant to Norbert Balatsch, the chorus master at the Bayreuth Festival, where he worked on Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the Ring. From 2002 to 2007 he was conductor and chorus master at the Mozart in Reinsberg Festival in Lower Austria. Since 2011 he has worked with the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus. As chorus director at the Salzburg Festival he has been responsible for the productions of La Cenerentola (2014), Reimann’s Lear (2017), Henze’s The Bassarids (2018), Enescu’s Œdipe and Verdi’s Luisa Miller (2019), Mozart’s Così fan tutte (2020 and 2021), Nono’s Intolleranza 1960 (2021), Strauss’s Elektra (2021) and Káťa Kabanová, ‘Prologo in cielo’ from Boito’s Mefistofele and Aida (2022).
In 2004 he composed the music for Claude Stratz’s production of Molière’s Le Malade imaginaire performed at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna.
In 1996 Huw Rhys James founded the Musikwerkstatt Wien, which remained active until 2012 and became one of Austria’s leading ensembles in the fields of contemporary and Baroque music theatre, appearing to great acclaim at international festivals such as the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Odense Autumn Festival and the Zagreb Music Biennale. Particularly important were the ensemble’s rediscovery of Leonardo Vinci’s opera L’Artaserse in 2007 and the first performance in Vienna of Francesco Conti’s Don Chisciotte in Sierra Morena in 2009, in both cases with the Musica Poetica Wien Baroque Orchestra that Huw Rhys James founded in 2001. A further important aspect of his work is his promotion of young Austrian composers, including the commissioning of new works.
Since 2009 Huw Rhys James has again made frequent appearances as a concert pianist, undertaking tours that have taken him to many European countries as well as to the United States and China.