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Murray Stewart (musician)
Murray Stewart - Conductor and Organist
Murray Stewart was born in Barnet, Hertfordshire, on February 20, 1954.
Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Boys' Grammar School, Barnet, Murray Stewart studied the organ with Peter Hurford at St Alban's Cathedral, gaining an Organ Scholarship to Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1972, where he read music. As well as receiving organ lessons from Peter Le Huray in Cambridge, he continued his studies with Daniel Roth in Paris on an Arts Council Scholarship, the fruits of which can be heard in recordings of Vierne, and the complete organ works of Cesar Franck, for the Danish label, Kontrapunkt. Murray Stewart was a finalist in the interpretation competition at the 1977 St Albans International Organ Festival. He later took further lessons with Gillian Weir.
After a short period as Assistant Organist at Leeds Parish Church, Murray Stewart held teaching appointments at Wrekin College, and Solihull School, as Organist and Choirmaster. During this time, he was conductor of the Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir. For the Royal School of Church Music, Murray Stewart directed courses for both choristers, and adult Summer Schools. In 1981, Murray Stewart moved to London as Organist of St Paul's, Knightsbridge (1981-1983) and later, for a short period, as Organist of All Saints', Margaret Street. These positions were combined with teaching posts at Farnborough Hill Convent College, and Queen's College, Harley Street, respectively. Murray Stewart was an examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), both on the general, and diploma panel. Later in his career, Murray Stewart was Director of Music for Benslow Music Trust (2004-2008).
Since the late 1980s, Murray Stewart devoted himself to a conducting career, initially studying with Harold Gray in Birmingham, and later with Meredith Davies and Sir Charles Mackerras, with whom he established a particularly close relationship. As Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Murray Stewart founded the London Pro Arte Orchestra in 1989, and the period instrument orchestra, London Pro Arte Baroque, in 1995, conducting over 150 concerts with both orchestras. With the former, he conducted many premieres, including works by Ropartz, Langlais, Sallinen, Kokkonen, Szymanowski, Howells, Patterson, Brian Chapple, Piers Hellawell, Geoffrey Burgon, Howard Blake, Naji Hakim and Robert Walker, to critical acclaim
As a guest conductor, Murray Stewart has worked with many orchestras, including the Philharmonia, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the Ulster Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia and the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He has also worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra in studio recordings of French repertoire, including the complete orchestral works of Maurice Durufle. Abroad, he worked with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony at the Smetana Hall, Prague, the Musici de Praga and Aarhus Symphony Orchestra.
Murray Stewart is a former conductor of the Collegium Musicum of London, succeeding Laszlo Heltay, Bristol Choral Society (1984-2000), and Nottingham Harmonic Society. He was also Artistic Director of Finchley Children's Music Group, with whom he gave the British Premiere of Pierre Max Dubois' opera Le ruban merveilleux at Sadlers Wells. Also in London, Murray Stewart was conductor of the London Forest Choir (1984-2002), and the East London Chorus (1993-2009).
Murray Stewart moved to Denmark in 2009, taking up an appointment at Vor Frue Kirke, Aarhus. In 2016, he was appointed organist at Sankt Sørens Kirke, Gammel Rye, mid-Jutland.
Murray Stewart has recorded two discs of music by Jean Langlais, including the composer's Organ Concerto No 2 with the London Pro Arte Orchestra and the composer's widow, Marie-Louise Langlais as soloist. He also made the premiere recording of Richard Maunder's edition of the Mozart Requiem, in its entirety, and on modern instruments. A Christmas disc for Conifer Classics with Finchley Children's Music Group enjoyed success in the classical charts. Murray Stewart made the premiere recording of Mariano Rodriguez de Ledesma's Requiem Mass.
In 1984, he married Gwendoline Pilkington, and they had a son and daughter. A second marriage to Kerstin Stolte produced a second daughter.
19 November, 2017
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