Principal Conductor – Robert Guy

“Robert is one of our finest young conductors and is trailblazing a wonderful career throughout Wales and well beyond. He is a unique talent.” Paul Mealor

Robert Guy hails from Wrexham and is a conductor and presenter who passionately believes in utilising the art’s unique potential to communicate, connect and empower. Robert is an outstanding musician who is in high demand and has conducted more of the main classical and romantic repertoire than most of his generation across orchestras, chamber ensembles, choirs and opera. In May, Robert was invited to conduct the Kosovo Philharmonic Orchestra and Peter Donohoe at the Chopin Piano Festival held in Pristina, and in December 2022, he made his debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Robert is the recipient of the inaugural Hilary Tann Award for outstanding achievement in music in Wales 2023, awarded by the Welsh Music Guild.

Robert is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of NEW Sinfonia, a multi faceted arts organisation which boasts a professional chamber orchestra, community vocal ensemble NEW Voices and education programme NEW Academi, based in North Wales. NEW Sinfonia are orchestra in residence at the North Wales International Music Festival where Robert has conducted the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain and the world première of a new opera by Paul Mealor called Gelert. Robert has worked with Welsh National Opera and leading soloists and composers including Rebecca Dale, Ye-Eun Choi, Tamsin Waley Cohen and Federico Colli. Robert has led education workshops which have been featured by the BBC. NEW Sinfonia are proud to partner with United to Assist Refugees UK, a Wrexham based, grassroots humanitarian movement dedicated to helping refugees and those fleeing war and persecution. In July 2023, Robert conducted NEW Sinfonia at Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod. Refugees from across North East Wales sang as part of a 200 strong choir in a spectacular concert which was a poignant reminder of music’s power to unite and transcend division.

He has been involved in many prestigious concerts including being Assistant Conductor to Simon Halsey and the BBC Proms Youth Choir at the BBC Proms and making his debuts with the Orchestra of Opera North and Huddersfield Choral Society. He enjoys a close relationship with Manchester Camerata where he has performed with Tine Thing Helseth, conducted and presented concerts for Orchestra Live, recorded for Sony Playstation and performed for the Manchester International Festival. Robert is Principal Guest Conductor to Stockport Symphony Orchestra and guest conducts Immix Ensemble, a  new music ensemble based in Liverpool.

Robert’s collaborative approach to building trust with musicians has been shaped by his early professional career as a viola player, where he notably played with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North and alongside the Allegri and Edinburgh String Quartets. He is now mentored by some of the greatest conductors of the modern era having been chosen for several prestigious programmes. These include being selected by Kirill Karabits to work with the Britten Pears Orchestra and by Jorma Panula as part of his Panula Academy in Finland working with the Turku Philharmonic. Internationally, Robert has been selected for prestigious masterclasses working with the Berlin Philharmonic in Aix-en-Provence, Neemi Järvi and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Robert is frequently in demand as an empathetic and committed conductor of youth orchestras.  Nationally, Robert has conducted the National Youth Orchestra of Wales at St David’s Hall and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, the Hallé Youth Orchestra, and Pro Corda at Cadogan Hall in London. Internationally, he has been invited to conduct for the World Orchestra Festival, Asia Pacific Orchestra Festival (APAC) in Vietnam, Association of Music in International Schools (AMIS) in Salzburg, Haileybury Astana in Kazakhstan and the North London Collegiate School (NLCS) in South Korea.

Robert is proud to be Director of Ensembles at the University of Manchester and leads their highly acclaimed Conducting Programme. In January 2024, he will conduct the University of Manchester Chamber Choir at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Global Concert Music Concert held in Hong Kong. Robert directed the first performance of Barry Cooper’s new Bärenreiter edition of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and commissioned a new choral work Light Into My Dark by John Casken. Recent and current conducting students are rapidly making their way in the profession with organisations which include RSNO Chorus, The Hallé, NYCGB Fellowship Programme and RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

@RobGuyConductor and Author of #The Conductor Guy: The Classical Music Podcast

#56 world premières #265 student conductors

Not to be edited without permission. September 2023

Student Conductors

Students from the University of Manchester have the opportunity to take part in a conducting scheme working alongside Robert Guy as assistant conductors. Many of the participants in this scheme are aspiring professional conductors.

Harry Mobbs

Harry Mobbs is a Baritone and Conductor from Kent. He is entering his third year of studying Music at The University of Manchester, where he will be conducting Ad Solem Chamber Choir, as well as managing the University Opera’s reimagining of Handel’s Samson.

Harry is an active member of Manchester’s professional choral scene, as a member of Kantos Chamber Choir, Deputy Lay Clerk at Manchester Cathedral, and a former HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholar, with whom he performed alongside I fagiolini and broadcasted multiple times with the BBC and Church of England. Harry is a recent graduate of Genesis Sixteen, where he spent a year under the tutelage of Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan. Harry has performed as both a soloist and ensemble singer at many esteemed venues across the UK including The Bridgewater Hall, The Stoller Hall, Sheffield City Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, The Barbican Hall and London Kings Place.

In February 2023 Harry launched The Mancunium Consort, which he manages and co-directs. The group has enjoyed many successful concerts and digital releases, already fulfilling its longer-term ambition of widening the platform for young professionals in the north. Harry conducted Ad Solem and The Cosmo Singers during his second year at university, whilst also being Chorusmaster and Assistant Manager of the University Opera production of Victoria Bond’s Mrs President.

Away from music, Harry greatly enjoys sports and cooking. He is an avid Liverpool FC fan and a keen cricketer.

Kwankaew Ruangtrakool

Kwankaew Ruangtrakool (Kwan) is a conductor and soprano from Thailand. She is entering her third year of studying Music at The University of Manchester, training as a Soprano under the tutelage of Catherine Mikic and will be conducting Ad Solem Chamber Choir, as well as the University’s Symphony Orchestra, under the tutelage of Robert Guy.

This year, in addition to overseeing university ensembles, Kwankaew has taken on the role of directing the Somnium Chamber Choir. Furthermore, due to her recent appointment as one of the Associate Choral Leaders at St Martin in the Fields, she will be assisting with conducting and directing some of the HeartEdge Choral Scholar events on Saturdays, alongside her leadership in various other special projects.

Kwankaew is also highly involved in the music scene both as a choral singer and an operatic singer. Her choral highlights include EuroChoir 2022 session in Switzerland, organised by the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat, and HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholarship, with whom she broadcasted multiple times with the BBC and Church of England. She also starred in a number of operatic productions, including ‘Fanny Mill’ in Bangkok Youth Opera’s production La Cambiale di Matrimonio by Rossini, and ‘Isabella Beecher’ in the University’s Opera Production ‘Mrs President’ by Victoria Bond. While in Manchester, she sings in multiple vocal ensembles, including Mancunium Consort, Somnium Chamber Choir, Manchester Oratory Choir, Holy Name Church Choir and Ad Solem, the university chamber choir.

Beyond her musical pursuits, Kwankaew is an avid traveler. She loves to explore, exchange, experience cultures, and share different ways of life. Notably, she holds an interest in cultural management, having been chosen by the International Federation of Choral Music as a Youth Cultural Manager (YOUNG) to work and participate in the 2023 World Symposium on Choral Music in Istanbul, Türkiye.

Elena Strachan

Elena Strachan is a classical singer and
choral conductor in her second year at the University of Manchester. She will be conducting The Cosmo Singers this year alongside Joe Martin. Elena’s most notable musical achievements include singing the Once in Royal David’s City solo at the Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve and winning the music competition at her sixth form college, Peter Symonds, in Hampshire. Elena is very excited to meet this year’s Cosmo Singers and start conducting some amazing pieces. Outside of music, Elena enjoys learning facts about nature and drinking green tea.

Joseph Martin

Joseph Martin is a Tenor and Conductor entering his second year at Manchester University, where he reads Music. Alongside Elena Strachan, he will be conducting The Cosmo Singers this year, as well as managing the University Opera’s production of Handel’s Samson- a reimagination project, alongside Harry Mobbs. From Chester, Joseph has over a decade of choral experience with the city’s cathedral choir, starting as a chorister right through to the position of Cathedral Lay Clerk, which he held during his A-Levels. Throughout this period, Joseph regularly sang with many orchestras, notably the City of London Sinfonia under the direction of Stephen Layton and recorded BBC radio broadcasts, including Choral Evensong and the Daily Service. Perhaps most notably was Joseph’s selection to represent Chester Cathedral at the launch of the Diamond Fund for Choristers at a special concert in St Paul’s, with which he later recorded a CD to commemorate the launch. In addition, Joseph undertook the voluntary position of assistant conductor for a community orchestra based in Chester, a post he held for four years. During his first year at Manchester, Joseph took part in the University Opera’s production of ‘Mrs President’ by Victoria Bond, sang in Manchester’s Ad Solem Chamber Choir and was involved in a collaboration between the University and The Hallé Chorus where, under the baton of Sir Mark Elder, he performed Elgar’s ‘The Kingdom’ at the Bridgwater Hall, later accompanying the choir to the Royal Albert Hall where they performed Rachmaninov’s ‘The Bells’ at this year’s Proms. Joseph’s solo debut outside the university came with a performance of Dvorák’s ‘Stabat Mater’ with Cantiones, a choir based in Oswestry under the direction of Martin Bussey. Outside of music, Joseph enjoys watching movies, collecting records and drinking too much coffee.