Our Artistic Director
Chris Parsons is a community musician, conductor, trumpeter and teacher based in the UK. He read Music at the University of York before completing a Masters in Historical Performance Practice at the Royal College of Music in 2014. In September 2022 he won the 'Best Music Director' Award 2022 from Making Music for his work in Community Music (specifically with the Bury Friendly Orchestra) and Ely Hero Award 2022 for his work with Ely Arts Festival.
He divides his time professionally as a community musician, trumpeter and conductor, and has performed across the UK and Europe, including tours in Germany, Denmark and Estonia.
As a trumpeter, he has performed across the UK and Europe, both as a soloist and as an orchestra player, including with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, International Baroque Players, Les Violons du Roy and Manchester Baroque. As a modern trumpet player, he has appeared with 'The Multi-Storey Orchestra', Brandenburg Sinfonia and Ukrainian National Opera (UK Tour). Chris has performed in prestigious venues and festivals such as St Martin-in-the-fields, St John’s Smith Square, London and the Palace of Versailles. He performed as part of the BBC Proms live on BBC Radio 3 and as an orchestral trumpeter in the London Handel Festival. He has been fortunate enough to work with conductors including Sir Roger Norrington and Laurence Cummings.
As a specialist baroque conductor he has directed a number of major works including operas and oratorios by Handel (Semele/Acis and Galatea/Messiah/Samson), Purcell (The Fairy Queen, King Arthur, Dido and Aeneas) and many works by Bach, Vivaldi and lesser known English contemporaries of Purcell and Handel.
He conducts all eras of music and has directed many major orchestral and choral works. These include Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Symphonies by Haydn, Schubert and Arriaga, Mozart’s Requiem and new commissions by the composers David Sims, Jonathan Brigg and Nils Greenhow.
Chris is passionate about community music and directs a number of community based ensembles. These include Bury St Edmunds Friendly Orchestra, Thetford Singers and Newmarket Chamber Orchestra. He firmly believes in making classical music accessible and engaging to all. A career highlight to date was conducting ‘A Night at the Movies’ in Ely Cathedral in July 2019 which featured over 200 primary school children singing with an accompanying orchestra of over 60 musicians. He has just conducted over 300 school children for 'The Carnival of the Animals' in Ely Cathedral in the Summer of 2022.
Chris works regularly with his own professional baroque ensemble, Eboracum Baroque described by the Guardian as 'stylish choral singers' and by Classic FM as 'spectacular'. They have toured across Europe and give concerts at numerous National Trust properties across the UK. Highlights include Messiahs in Cambridge and Germany as well as a live broadcast of Bach’s Magnificat on Estonian National Radio. They regularly perform large scale works by Handel and Bach right through to chamber concerts across the UK.They remained extremely active during the COVID-19 pandemic with online concerts during the various lockdowns, (which can still be enjoyed on YouTube). The group recorded Handel's Messiah after a successful crowdfunding campaign and tracks have been played on BBC Radio 3.
They run an active education programme with concerts including with the Horrible Histories author, Terry Deary. Recent education projects have featured Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with ‘The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day’ This has toured the UK and has worked with a number of music hubs and at festivals including the Edinburgh Book Festival. Eboracum Baroque are working in collaboration with the National Centre for Early Music performing these workshops across Yorkshire.
In December 2021 Chris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ely Arts Festival. He regularly leads singing and orchestral workshops and has articles published by Oxford University Press.
Future projects include delivering workshops for Britten Sinfonia as part of the 'Tuning up' project working in prisons.
He is a keen club cricketer and an avid Sunderland football fan.