Successfully winning awards at the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors, France, as well as the Hungarian Television International Conductors’ Competition, Irishman Robert Houlihan’s career has taken him to conduct leading orchestras in France, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Mexico, Venezuela, and South Africa.
In July 2000 Robert made his American Debut conducting at the ‘Mozart Festival’ at Woodstock, Illinois.
A native of Killarney, County Kerry, Robert lived in Metz, France from 1981 until 2002, where he conducted for several years at the Municipal Theatre as well as frequently guest conducting l’Orchestre National de Lorraine, l’Orchestre de Chambre de Metz and his own ensemble le Nouvel Ensemble Instrumental.
From 1990 to 1993 Robert was Principal Conductor of the Tirgu Mures Philharmonic, Romania. Between 1992 and 1998 he held the position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Savaria Symphony Orchestra, Hungary.
Robert Houlihan’s festival appearances include the BBC Proms and the Almeida Festival in London; The Budapest Spring Festival and the Bartók Festival in Hungary; The Summer Festival in Amsterdam and the Wurzburg Mozart Festival in Germany to name a few.
Robert has conducted over 100 different orchestras since he began his career. He has a wide range of repertoire from Baroque to the great repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to his solid and precise technique, corroborated by the international press, he is very often invited to conduct demanding new contemporary works.
In addition to his conducting appearances Robert is in much demand as a teacher, giving classes in Ireland, France, Holland, Portugal and Hungary. Since 1989 he has also reserved two weeks in August each year to tutor with George Hurst at the renowned Sherborne (formerly Canford) Summer School of Music, Sherborne, England.
Robert Houlihan returned to live in his native Ireland in December 2002. He now regularly conducts the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra as well as appearing as a guest with orchestras in Europe and in South America.
Geoffrey Spratt is both an orchestral and choral conductor, as well as a music educator. He lectured in the Music Department of University College Cork from 1976-92 and was Director of the Cork School of Music from 1992-2016. Although most of his work has been in Ireland, he has conducted extensively in the UK, France, Germany, and USA.
As well as founding and conducting choirs (large and small) including the UCC Choir, Irish Youth Choir, Fleischmann Choir, Canticum Novum, and MusiCórum, he worked for long periods with both the Galway Baroque Singers and Madrigal ’75. His orchestral work has been with both professionals (RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St Cecilia), and amateurs – including the University College Cork and Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestras. Since January 2020, Geoffrey has devoted himself to performing all 106 of J. Haydn’s symphonies. You can learn more about that project here.
Geoffrey has been teaching conducting since 1976 and established the Sing Ireland Annual Summer School for Choral Conductors in 1981. He was honoured to step in for Robert Houlihan last summer and is delighted to be assisting Robert this year – having both been students of George Hurst in the past, they share the core values of conducting technique, score preparation, rehearsal techniques, and musical interpretation.