Welsh-born Guy Protheroe is one of Great Britain’s most versatile musicians—active as a conductor, music director, teacher, composer, arranger, lyricist, singer, writer, and musicologist. He began his musical exposure and training as a choirmaster at Canterbury Cathedral; studied music as a scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, followed by postgraduate study there in composition; and then studied bassoon and voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As conductor and artistic director for the contemporary music ensemble Spectrum, he has given many performances internationally to wide critical acclaim, made many award-winning recordings, and worked closely with such composers as Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, and Jonathan Harvey. He conducted the inaugural concert of the Arts Council Contemporary Music Network series and, with the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, the opening concert of the first Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music—one of the most celebrated new music festivals. In 2000, he conducted a series of staged performances of Xenakis’s Oresteia at the Linbury Studio Theatre of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to outstanding press reviews. Protheroe is also the founding conductor of the English Chamber Choir and the English Players (orchestra). The Byzantine Legacy, a CD featuring the English Chamber Choir under his baton, was released in 2000 by Sony Greece.
Protheroe began his association with commercial music as chorusmaster for The Who’s Tommy and has worked on films, television and radio commercials, and in concerts as conductor, director, and arranger. He has worked with such groups and personalities as Tangerine Dream, Black Sabbath, Larry Adler, John Anderson, and many others in the commercial music world. In particular, he has been associated with Rick Wakeman, from the Journey to the Center of the Earth (1974) to the Return to the Center of the Earth (1999) albums; and he has a long-standing relationship with Vangelis as music director, arranger, and vocal soloist in recordings and films, from Heaven and Hell (1975) to the Ridley Scott film 1492: Conquest of Paradise. His concert appearances have included the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, a docklands concert in Rotterdam to an audience of 300,000, and a gala concert on the Acropolis in Athens; and he was chorusmaster for Vangelis’s hymn for the 2002 World Cup.
He has directed and originated a number of unusual artistic projects and series that reflect his diverse interest in the arts. These range from anniversary celebrations of such literary figures as T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, and Gerard Manley Hopkins to a retrospective at the Almeida Festival of the Italian avant-garde composer Sylvano Bussotti. He has been especially involved in Greek music and culture, serving as artistic director of the 1989 Greek festival in London at the South Bank Centre and of a 1990 festival devoted to Byzantine music; and as codirector of the 1998 Byzantine Festival that included a concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales, the Patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria, and Archbishops from several countries. He has worked with many London cantors, arranging and conducting music for their concerts and recordings, and he has participated in several Jewish music festivals in England.
Protheroe is also one of Great Britain's leading legal experts on music copyrights, serving frequently as expert witness in copyright, plagiarism, and piracy disputes.
By: Neil W. Levin
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