Brian MacKay – Musical Director

Brian MacKay has wide ranging experience as a conductor, pianist, vocal coach, orchestral oboist, chamber musician and teacher.  A graduate of the Royal College of Music and the Kodaly Institute, he studied conducting under Lawrence Leonard, János Fürst, Katalin Kiss and Peter Erdei.  Before leaving Ireland in 2009 to live in Portugal, Brian conducted for many years at Castle Ward Opera as well as giving performances with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, Opera Theatre Company, The Czech Virtuosi, Orchestra of St Cecilia, Fishamble Voices, Wexford Sinfonia and the Nairobi Orchestra. He spent his last two years in Ireland as principal conductor of the National Chamber Choir. Now living in Portugal, he is the Artistic Director of the Zêzere Arts Festival and continues a busy career as a freelance conductor and performer.

Brian was musical director of the St.George’s Singers, Belfast, from 2002 to 2008.  He conducted the Dublin choir Enchiriadis Treis for more than ten years and had associations with Tallaght choral society, the Belfast Philharmonic, the RTE Philharmonic, Trinity choral society and the Goethe Institute choir.

As a coach and repetiteur he worked for many years for Opera Theatre Company and Wexford Festival Opera and has been a guest coach at the RSAMD and the Liszt Academy, Budapest.  During two years as a student in Hungary Brian sang with the professional Hungarian choir ‘Ars Nova’ and was made a life member for his services to the group.

Brian has always maintained a performing career alongside his conducting work, concentrating on chamber music at the piano or harpsichord.  He has played continuo with many ensembles, most notably the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Teaching experience includes Royal College of Music, the City of London School, St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, several years as Chair of the Kodály Society of Ireland, Artistic Directorship of  Irish Vocal Masterclasses and many seminars, workshops and summer schools throughout Ireland and in the UK, Europe and Africa.

From 2007 – 2009 Brian was the principal Conductor of the National Chamber Choir of Ireland.  In 2009 he moved to Portugal and now lives in Ferreira do Zêzere. Since arriving in Portugal he has given recitals with singers in theatres and concert halls throughout Portugal, including Palácio Foz and the Gulbenkian in Lisbon. He has also continued a busy career as a guest choral and orchestral conductor.