Ian McCrae 2013 - present

ian mcCraeIan has been an active conductor since 1981 and has worked extensively throughout the UK and Europe and has conducted orchestras in venues as diverse as the Royal Festival Hall to a converted bath house in Amsterdam. After completing his studies at university and Music College he worked as a freelance composer, orchestrator and conductor before training as a teacher. Ian has been musical director of many orchestras throughout the region including the Sussex University Symphony Orchestra and the Brighton and Hove Youth Philharmonia. He is also in demand as a guest conductor with orchestras and choirs throughout the UK and Europe. Most of what constitutes his conducting technique comes from working and interacting with orchestral musicians, studying and analysing scores and working as both a composer and orchestrator. He has, however, also studied with established conductors including Tadaaki Otaka and Diego Masson.

As a composer, following his studies with Francis Shaw and John McCabe, he has written two symphonies, three operas and a vast folio of other commissioned music that is widely performed. His work as both composer and orchestrator has included work for Classic FM, the Philharmonia orchestra and Glyndebourne. His re-orchestrations of full symphonic works, such as César Frank’s D minor symphony and Strauss’s horn concerto no.1 for smaller forces have gained him much critical acclaim as have his film scores for the films ‘The common treasury’ and ‘Fly on  the wall’.

Ian has always been heavily involved in bringing music to deprived communities and has spent most of his teaching career in schools in areas of social and economic deprivation.  At present he is head teacher of a school in Hastings. He is also involved in promoting healthy lifestyles through musical activity even taking an entire seventy piece youth orchestra on tour in France on bicycles. As both a keen yachtsman and cyclist, Ian finds as many excuses as possible to leave music behind for a while and get on the saddle or on the water with his wife and three children.

Adrian Shepherd MBE 2006 - 2013

Adrian was born in 1939 in the county of Essex, England, and studied the cello with William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. For 20 years he was principal cello with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Professor of Cello at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He studied conducting with Walter Weller and Sir Alexander Gibson. From 1985-1993 he was the Director of Orchestral Studies and Professor of Cello at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Adrian founded the modern instrument ensemble Cantilena in 1970 and remained its artistic director and conductor. He was also a director of the Cantilena Festival on Islay each July. He was a member of the Orpheus String Trio, the Trio Classico and the new Music Group of Scotland. He died in July 2013, and will be much missed.

Russell Morgan 1993 - 2005

Russell was asked in 1993 by Lewes Town Council to establish a new orchestra to play at civic events and to present popular concerts. At that time, he was musical director of Lewes Operatic Society for the second time in his career. He had conducted many shows from 1962 to 1976, including trips abroad with the company, and was brought back in 1986. He recruited talented amateurs and local professionals for the new orchestra, and the Lewes Concert Orchestra was established. Soon this, and his own commitments as a piano soloist and teacher, led him to hand over the reins of the operatic society.