Born in Nairobi and brought up in Manchester, John Andrews graduated from Cambridge University with a doctorate in music and history. In 2005 he won the Orchestra Prize at the Bela Bartok international Opera Conducting Competition and in 2012 received the Leonard Ingrams memorial Prize from Garsington Opera. That year he was described, in the Observer, as a ‘tremendous young conductor.’
On the concert platform, John is Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor-in-Assocation with the English Symphony Orchestra, whom he conducts regularly at the English Music Festival showcasing a hugely diverse repertoire spanning Arne, Boyce, Sullivan, Britten and Arnold. He was Principal Conductor of the 2018 International Composers Festival and in the coming seasons will appear at Bridgewater Hall with the Manchester Concert Orchestra, the London Handel Festival, The Malcolm Arnold Festival and Baroquestock.
Described by Opera Now as ‘One of our liveliest, most elegant and talented bel canto conductors’ John has a special affinity for both the bel canto and the English baroque. He has conducted over forty operas, including Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra (Rossini), Pia de’ Tolomei (Donizetti), Don Giovanni (Mozart), Tolomeo (Handel) and Anna Bolena (Donizetti) for English Touring Opera; Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart) for Rostock Volkstheater; Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdick) and La cenerentola (Rossini) for Garsington Opera, and The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Todd) and Il segreto di Susanna (Wolf-Ferrari) for Opera Holland Park. As music director of Stanley Hall Opera, he conducted Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) and Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) as well as commissioning new translations from David Parry for productions of Der Schauspieldirektor (Mozart) and Le comte Ory (Rossini). Working with younger singers he conducted The Mikado (Sullivan) for Co-Opera and is a visiting conductor at the London College of Music. His performances of Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei were praised for his ‘highly cultured, shapely and pressing direction’, while Bachtrack described his interpretation of Lucia di Lammermoor as ‘faultless’.
A powerful exponent of neglected repertoire, John is currently making a series of world premiere recordings with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus and The Brook Street Band of works by English composers including incidental music for Macbeth and The Tempest (Sullivan), The Mountebanks (Gilbert and Cellier), The Light of the World (Sullivan), Haddon Hall (Sullivan) Percy Sherwood’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello,Frederic Cowen’s Fifth Symphony and Thomas Arne’s The Judgment of Paris. The first of these – Sullivan’s Music for Macbeth and The Tempest – was named a Disc of the Year in The Sunday Times, described by Hugh Canning as ‘pure delight’ whilst Opera Magazine described him as ‘the ideal Savoy conductor’.
John regularly conducts the very best non-professional orchestras, and is music director of Trinity Orchestra and Leicester Symphony Orchestra as well as appearing frequently with the Haydn Chamber Orchestra. Equally in demand as a choral conductor, he was Chorus Director of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and is Music Director of Harpenden Choral Society, St John of Jerusalem Festival Chorus and Minerva Consort.
His gift for combining empathy and feel for both music and musicians with an ability to directly and powerfully communicate his ideas, together with his passion for locating music in its social and historical context, brings dynamism and warmth to his interpretations of both rare and classic repertoire. His doctorate is on the political and religious world of eighteenth-century oratorio, and he has written programme articles for New York City Opera and Glyndebourne. He lectures for the Cambridge Music Hubs programme, and has lectured at the Elgar School of Music and the Blackheath Conservatoire on the history of the symphony and the birth of English Opera. He has also appeared on Radio 4 discussing his research on Handel’s Semele.
He lives in East London with Susan, Frances, Katharine, Espresso, Lady Grey, Julius, Sirius and Jaws.