Conductor bows out as Buxton chief

Stephen Barlow. Photo: Mohamed El-Fatih.
Stephen Barlow. Photo: Mohamed El-Fatih.

Buxton International Festival’s outgoing artistic director Stephen Barlow has been praised for bringing worldwide acclaim to the annual celebration of opera, music and books.

At the end of his seven-year tenure, Stephen has confirmed that the 2018 Festival on July 6-22 will be his last and he will be leaving in late July.

But new chief executive officer Michael Williams said that he was delighted to confirm that Stephen will conduct one of the festival opera productions in 2019, on its 40th anniversary.

Stephen joined Buxton in 2011 and is credited with transforming the festival, bringing it to greater national and international attention.

He cemented Buxton’s reputation for championing lesser-performed operas by well-known composers including Leonore (Beethoven), Louise (Charpentier), The Jacobin (Dvořák), La princesse jaune‚ (Saint-Saëns), Intermezzo (Strauss), Kaschei the Immortal (Rimsky), Maiden in the Tower (Sibelius) and Otello (Rossini).

Stephen was also responsible for programming the early Verdi trilogy, with three times Olivier award-winning opera director Elijah Moshinsky, of Giovanna d’Arco, Macbeth (1847) and Alzira, which he will conduct at its first major UK staged production at Buxton this summer.

He has supported artists, many of whom have made role debuts and UK debuts in Buxton, and helped Buxton International Chorus members transition to principal roles.

Stephen said: “I shall miss enormously the exhilaration of the festival atmosphere and the scintillating immersion in operas, concerts and books that enlivens the lovely spa town and wider region each summer, but look forward to returning as a visitor in whatever capacity.”