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About our conductor

Dr Geoffrey Spratt

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Dr Geoffrey Spratt was a professional flautist & viola player as well as a conductor with a wide experience of choral, operatic & orchestral conducting before moving to the Republic of Ireland in 1976; since then, he has combined a career in music education with being one of the most sought-after conductors in the country and making a significant input to various bodies working to further the cause of music in Ireland.


After completing his BA and PhD at Bristol University, he was a Lecturer in UCC’s Music Department (1976-1992); he published extensively, and produced a 651-page book, The Music of Arthur Honegger, which was published by Cork University Press in 1987.  He was appointed Director of the Cork School of Music in 1992 and led the expansion of this conservatory through the provision of a wide range of Level 8 and Level 9 courses, together with the investment by the State of over €65m in a new state-of-the-art building (opened in 2007 and containing what has been widely acclaimed as one of finest small concert halls in the world, the Curtis Auditorium).


Through his work as Chairman (1984-2006) of Cumann Náisiúnta na gCór (which he co-founded in 1980), he has done much to promote the cause of choral singing in Ireland.  In 1982 he established CNC’s Annual Summer School for Choral Conductors and taught the advanced class until 2005.  More recently he has taught conducting for a variety of course providers (including the Association of Irish Youth Orchestras and Sing Ireland) and given masterclasses for many choirs, bands, and orchestras.  He was Director (1987-93) of the Cork International Choral Festival and Chairman of the Cork Orchestral Society (1992-2013) - succeeding Aloys Fleischmann in both roles.  National roles have included periods as both member and chair of The Music Association of Ireland, the Council for Music in Higher Education, and Conservatoires Ireland.


As a Lecturer in UCC’s Music Department he founded the UCC Choir & Orchestra (1976-92), conducted the UCC Choral Society (1978-87), and - with Aiveen Kearney - established the Irish Youth Choir in 1982 (Conductor, 1982-2007); after he was appointed Director of the Cork School of Music, he founded the Fleischmann Choir (which he conducted from 1992-2013), Canticum Novum (1998-) and MusiCórum (2019-).  All these ensembles have achieved recognition throughout Ireland and abroad for their concerts, broadcasts & competitive festival appearances.


Since 1980 he has appeared regularly as a guest conductor with most of the professional orchestras & choirs in Ireland - particularly the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and Dublin’s Orchestra of St Cecilia.  (Apart from performances of J. S. Bach’s cantatas, perhaps the highlight of his OSC work has been Mozart’s complete Piano Concertos (Hugh Tinney, NCH, 1996-98.).  He was conductor of Madrigal ’75 (1985-97), the Galway Baroque Singers & Orchestra (1983-92), and has been a guest conductor throughout Europe & USA.


His concert performances with the Fleischmann Choir became season highlights in Cork from 1993.  He and the choir forged a vision of performing a huge spectrum of the large-scale works for choir & orchestra; a partnership was forged with the CSM Symphony Orchestra, and generations of students have described performing the great oratorios with the Fleischmann Choir and a dazzling array of internationally renowned soloists as their ‘really great memories.’  The Fleischmann Choir also broadcast regularly with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and was described by the music critic of The Irish Times as ‘… having a youthful freshness and an unforced fullness of tone that no group in Dublin has managed to match.’  Geoff Spratt retired as conductor of the Fleischmann Choir when the choir celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2013 and remains inordinately proud of the fact that the choir (of which he is now a singing member) has continued to go from strength to strength under his successor, Conor Palliser.


His performances with the CSM Symphony Orchestra also became legendary, with many of the finest young instrumentalists who won the CSM’s Senior Concerto Competition being nurtured through public performances not just in Cork, but throughout the country.  As an outshoot, the CSM Chamber Orchestra (and the CSM Baroque Ensemble) flourished in recent years, with senior students being given the chance to opt to play for a very short, intensive project, that saw them treated like professional musicians: the music is distributed in advance, and a very high standard expected from one rehearsal and a balance rehearsal for a series of performances.


He retired as Director of the Cork School of Music on 31 August 2016, and after serving as the External Examiner for the full-time courses of Dublin’s Royal Irish Academy of Music, he is now fulfilling the same role for the Dublin Technological University’s Conservatory of Music & Drama.  He is committed to two complimentary projects: the Cork2020sHaydnSymphoniesSeries (which will see all of Haydn’s 106 symphonies and Sinfonia concertante performed during 50 concerts by an orchestra consisting of the finest players living and working in and around Cork led by the distinguished violinist Elizabeth Charleson) and MusiCórum.


Geoff Spratt has always personified Benjamin Britten’s dictum: music does not exist until it is performed.  His whole approach to conducting is, and always has been, one of facilitating collaboration through great masterpieces to achieve the highest possible standard. 

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