Kenneth Montgomery OBE was born in Belfast. He was the Ulster Orchestra’s Principal Conductor from 2007 to 2010 and the its Principal Guest Conductor before that. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London where he was a pupil of Sir Adrian Boult. He continued his studies in Hamburg with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, in Siena with Sergiu Celibidache and with Sir John Pritchard.
Kenneth began his career with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the English National Opera (then known as Sadler’s Wells Opera). In 1973 he was appointed musical director of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and two years later musical director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera.
Following his début with the Nederlandse Opera in Cavalli’s L’Ormindo in 1970, Kenneth quickly made a name for himself in the Netherlands. In 1975 he was appointed principal conductor of the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra (the Omroep Orkest, later the Radio Symfonie Orkest) and subsequently of the Dutch Radio Choir (the Groot Omroepkoor) as well. He conducted a large number of broadcast performances for Dutch radio during his many years with the Orchestra and Choir. Many of his recordings have been issued on CD.
Kenneth is also well-known internationally for his work as a regular guest conductor with the main orchestras in Paris, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and orchestras in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia and the USA. He recently toured with the Orchestra of the 18th Century to great acclaim.
His work in opera covers a wide repertory, ranging from baroque to contemporary music theatre. Kenneth has held a number of established opera posts in addition to his many international guest appearances at opera houses in the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium and Italy, where he conducted Handel’s La Resurrezione with great success at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
In 1985 he was appointed artistic and musical director of Opera Northern Ireland and in 1991 he was made director of opera studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He was interim music director at the Santa Fe Opera where he conducted 20 productions since 1982. When a new Opera Academy was created from the opera departments of The Hague and Amsterdam conservatories, he was appointed its first artistic director. He continues to give conducting masterclasses at the Royal Conservatory.
In 2010 Kenneth was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to music in Northern Ireland and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature in Music (DLit(Mus)) from Queen’s University Belfast in recognition of his outstanding contribution to music.