Our artistic director
Multi-talented Ian Watson has been described by The Times of London as a “world-class soloist” and a keyboard performer of “virtuosic panache” and by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as “a conductor of formidable ability.” He is currently in his 11th season as Artistic Director of Arcadia Players Period-Instrument Orchestra, and was appointed Resident Conductor of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society in September 2014.
Born in England in the Buckinghamshire village of Wooburn Common, Ian won a scholarship at age 14 to the Junior School of the Royal Academy of Music in London, later winning all the prizes for organ performance, including the coveted Recital Diploma. He completed his studies with Flor Peeters in Belgium. In 1993, in recognition of his services to music, he was honored with an Associateship of the Royal Academy of Music. Ian’s first major appointment was as Organist at St. Margaret's, Westminster Abbey, at the age of 19, a position he held for ten years. He also served as Music Director of the historic Christopher Wren church, St. James's Piccadilly.
Ian has appeared as soloist or conductor with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the Scottish, English, Polish, Irish and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestras, Bremen Philharmonic, Rhein-Main Symphony, Colorado Symphony, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Handel and Haydn Society, English Baroque Soloists, and The Sixteen, among many others. He has also been featured on many recordings and film soundtracks including Amadeus, Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden, Restoration, Cry the Beloved Country, Voices from A Locked Room, and the BBC‘s production of David Copperfield.
Recent highlights include directing the North American premiere of the new edition of Bach's St. Mark Passion with the Bach Society Houston; recording Bach's four Lutheran Masses in London for Coro Records with Harry Christophers and The Sixteen; the start, in 2014, of a major project with violinist Susanna Ogata, to record the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas using period-instruments (Ian and Susanna performed two of the sonatas at the 2015 Connecticut Early Music Festival); and conducting an outdoor performance, in Boston’s Copley Square, of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Handel and Haydn Society in honor of their 200th anniversary last July. The audience was estimated at 7,000.