Creative Team Biographies

Creative Team

Peter Whelan

Irish-born Peter Whelan is among the most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor, keyboardist and solo bassoonist. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas. Recent engagements have included appearances with English Concert, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Ulster Orchestra, and the Academy of Ancient Music.

As conductor, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque era. Recent projects funded by The Arts Council (Ireland) and Creative Scotland involved recreating and staging live performances of choral and symphonic music from eighteenth-century Dublin and Edinburgh. This led to his award-winning disc Edinburgh 1742 for Linn Records and his 2017 reconstruction of the Irish State Musick in its original venue of Dublin Castle.

Peter begins 2022 with a co-production between Irish National Opera and the Royal Opera House. Performances of Vivaldi’s Bajazet take place throughout Ireland in January, and at London’s Royal Opera House in February, featuring the Irish Baroque Orchestra. This season also sees Peter conduct Beethoven Orchester Bonn, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Lahti Symphony Orchestra.

As founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas, Peter has performed at Edinburgh International, Lammermuir, Göttingen Handel, Kilkenny Arts, Tetbury, Bath and Great Music in Irish Houses festivals. During their 2020 Wigmore Hall residency, The Telegraph described Ensemble Marsyas as ‘very possibly this country’s finest period group – led by Peter Whelan, they perform with wonderful élan, transmitting their total enjoyment’. Ensemble Marsyas has an impressive and award-winning discography with its disc of Barsanti being named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine (2017) and Recording of the Year in MusicWeb International (2017), as well as reaching second place in the Official UK Specialist Classical Chart.

Peter is ‘as exciting a live wire as Ireland has produced in the world of period performance’ (Irish Times). His artistic direction in live performance and the recording studio has been widely praised for ‘rich insight, style and charisma’ (The Guardian), its ‘stylish verve’ (BBC Music Magazine), its ‘exuberance and elegance’ (Irish Examiner), and its ‘slick tempi, grit and character’ (Golden Plec).

Jonathan Cocker

Jonathan Cocker trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a Cripplegate Scholarship.  He has directed productions throughout Europe, and as far afield as New Zealand. Notable productions include The Turn of the Screw for the Buxton Festival, The Fairy Queen (English Bach Festival at the ROH, as well as the festivals of Athens, Barcelona, Perelada and Granada.  In 2019 he directed a much-acclaimed production of Vaughan Williams’ Pilgrim’s Progress for the RNCM. He has worked for Scottish Opera, Opera North, Israeli Opera, Greek National Opera, New Zealand Opera, The Really Useful Group, Nottingham Playhouse and on several West End productions. His education portfolio includes student productions of The Magic Flute, Suor Angelica, The Bartered Bride, Dido and Aeneas, La bohème, Orfeo ed Euridice, Acis and Galatea, The Threepenny Opera; performance related workshops for Nottingham Playhouse, Edinburgh Festival, Opera North. He is currently Tutor in Stagecraft at the RNCM.

Bob Bailey

Bob trained at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design, London and on graduating in 1993 received an Arts Council Trainee Bursary at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre.

He is honoured to be returning to the RNCM after designing the Set and Costumes for their 2019 production of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Opera credits include: Tosca (Nationale Reisopera, Netherlands); Fedora, Macbeth, La Sonnambula and Manon Lescaut (Opera Holland Park); The Bartered Bride and La Vie Parisienne (Royal College Of Music); Falstaff (Guildhall School of Music); About Face and The Bald Soprano (Linbury Theatre).

Theatre credits include: The Empire and The Lying Kind (Royal Court); Love Me Tonight (Hampstead); Angels In America and Charley’s Aunt (Sheffield Crucible); The Pitchfork Disney (Arcola, London); Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats Of Loneliness, Chekhov In Hell, The Astronaut’s Chair, The Kneebone Cadillac, 49 Donkey’s Hanged, The Here And This And Now, Monster Raving Looney and Solid Air (Plymouth Drum); Stroke of Luck (Park 200); Bottle Universe, The God Botherers, Stitching, Trance and Pumpgirl (Bush); Hijra (Bush/Plymouth Drum); Paradise Bound and The Way Home (Liverpool Everyman); Lieutenant Of Inishmore, The Real Thing and Anything Goes (UK Tours); The Santaland Diaries, Circles, Folk and Anita And Me (Birmingham Repertory Theatre); Told Look Younger (Jermyn Street); The Kitchen Sink (Hull Truck); Rent, Hair, Cabaret, An Ideal Husband, An Inspector Calls, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Rain Man, Strangers On A Train, The Glass Menagerie, Other Desert Cities, Death And The Maiden, and Breaking The Code (English Theatre, Frankfurt); Translations and Moll Flanders (Bristol Old Vic); The Woman In Black (Vienna); La Cage Aux Folles (Aarhus Denmark); Reigen and Final Faust (2) Fantasy (Residenz Theater Munich); Set Designs for Never Forget (Savoy/Tours).

Dance credits include: All Nighter, Flamingoes and Horse-Play (Royal Ballet); Mrs Harris Goes to Paris (Costume Designs, Peacock Theatre) The Happiest Day Of My Life (Set Design for DV8 Physical Theatre Company: UK/European Tour) for which he was awarded Time Out Designer of the Year (1999).

Paul Botham

Initially a fine artist, Paul discovered theatre design whilst using the RNCM workshops to create sculptures for Manchester’s 1995 Streets Ahead Festival. Following this, he moved to London to study Set and Lighting Design at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Whilst studying, he worked in the West End as a freelance designer and technician on many London, Edinburgh and Manchester fringe productions, returning to Manchester to assist with RNCM productions wherever possible.

After completing his studies Paul moved back to Manchester to work as a freelance technician across many venues – including the RNCM – before being offered a post as Assistant Production manager on a UK tour of The Borrowers with the Library Theatre Company. Following this, Paul toured with several bands before returning to the RNCM in 2001 to take the position of Assistant Lighting Technician, and in 2005 took a year’s sabbatical to travel around New Zealand, Australia and South America, working on a number of productions as a Lighting Designer and Lighting Technician. On his return to the UK, he became the RNCM’s Venue Technician (Lighting) and is currently the College’s Technical Manager.

Although Paul had lit countless RNCM productions over the years, it wasn’t until 2014 that he was asked to create a lighting design for the Gluck double-bill of The Drunkard Cured and Orfeo ed Euridice, directed by Stefan Janski, and Stephen Sondheim’s Company, directed by Garth Bardsley. Paul returned to lighting design in the RNCM late last year, designing for Ariadne auf Naxos (Prologue) by Richard Strauss and The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti, directed by Stuart Barker.

Robin Wallington

Robin is a versatile young English conductor/composer with a reputation for dynamic performances across a wide range of contemporary and established repertoire.

He was recently designated Mills Williams Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music, a position he will hold until September 2022.

Equally at home in front of a full symphony orchestra, period instrument ensemble or contemporary music specialist ensemble, Robin brings a driving energy and detailed eye to his wide repertoire. He has worked with ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Psappha, and Northern Ballet Sinfonia. He has assisted conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Vasily Petrenko, Vassily Sinaisky, John Storgårds, Dalia Stasevska, Ben Gernon, and others.