Extended Biography

Born in the United Kingdom, Leo McFall gained a music degree at Oxford University and went on to study conducting, spending four years at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, where his tuition from Leif Segerstam was complemented by classes with, among others, Hannu Lintu, Jorma Panula and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. He undertook further studies with Johannes Schlaefli at the Zurich University of the Arts. During his time in Finland he co-founded a chamber orchestra, and conducted the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Pori Sinfonietta and Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra. In the field of chamber music, he participated in masterclasses with Ferenc Rados and Krysia Osostowicz. While still at school in the UK he had reached the finals – as a pianist – of the BBC Young Musician of the Year and also played the violin and viola.

In 2008 he was awarded the Seiji Ozawa Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Festival, and the following year joined the prestigious Deutsche Dirigentenforum, remaining on the programme until 2015. He has enjoyed a close working relationship with Bernard Haitink, assisting him in the preparation of concerts with the Chicago Symphony, European Youth Orchestras, Royal Concertgebouw and Vienna Philharmonic, and serving in 2009 as an acclaimed replacement for the great Dutch conductor at a concert with the Chicago Civic Orchestra. He has also assisted Jiří Bělohlávek, Herbert Blomstedt, Christoph Eschenbach and Gérard Korsten. Among leading instrumentalists with whom he has collaborated are Nicholas Angelich, Jan Lisiecki, Nils Mönkemeyer and Antje Weithaas.

Winner of the Deutsche Dirigentenpreis 2015 and a finalist in the Salzburg Festival/Nestlé Young Conductors Award 2014, he was the Assistant Conductor of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester from 2013-17, and during this held a senior position at the Meiningen State Theatre in Germany.

His appearances as a guest conductor in recent seasons include concerts with such orchestras as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre d’Auvergne, Oulu Sinfonia, Royal Scottish National and the RTVE Symphony Madrid. With Germany’s Bundesjugendorchester he has both conducted concerts and prepared its exceptional young players for a performance with Simon Rattle.

In opera, the Glyndebourne Festival and Glyndebourne on Tour have played a substantial role in his career, and a run of Così fan tutte is scheduled for autumn 2017. He has also led performances at Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Opera North and Wiener Volksoper. In 2018 he will conduct a new production of La traviata for his debut at English National Opera.

Leo McFall’s orchestral repertoire ranges from the Classical to the contemporary and his activities in opera have embraced Bluebeard’s Castle, Carmen, Così fan tutte, Don Giovanni, Falstaff, Gianni Schicchi, Mavra, Otello (with José Cura in the title role), Pagliacci, I puritani, Renard, Rigoletto, Rusalka, The Snow Maiden, Tannhäuser, La traviata, Tristan und Isolde, The Turn of the Screw, and the world premiere, at Glyndebourne, of Julian Philips's The Yellow Sofa (2009).

In addition to Così fan tutte with Glyndebourne on Tour and La traviata at English National Opera, Leo McFall’s engagements for the 2017-18 season include debut concerts with the Bern Symphony Orchestra, Bremen Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Dortmund Philharmonic, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra Vorarlberg.