Biography

Conductor & Musical Director | Composer & Arranger

Kevin Purcell is one of Australia’s most distinguished and awarded orchestral and opera conductors. Currently, Kevin serves as musical director for the Australian Discovery Orchestra – one of the world’s most innovative orchestral ensembles – whilst maintaining an active freelance career in the USA.

A critically received new record of the music of Nan Schwartz, 5-time Grammy nominee and Grammy Award winner, and 7-time Emmy nominated composer was released in March 2018 on the Divine Art record label. Kevin is presently working on a new record showcasing the upcoming generation of ASCAP musical theatre songwriters for worldwide release in early 2019, as well as a new series of premiere recordings of one-Act television operas commissioned throughout the 1950s and 1960s by the BBC.

The inaugural recipient of the Australian Music Foundation ‘Sir Charles Mackerras Prize’ (1995) and the Tait Memorial Trust Award in London (1996) were preceded by a prestigious scholarship to study conducting at the Moscow Conservatory (1992), and Opera Australia’s Willem van Otterloo Scholarship and the Bellhouse Conducting Prize (1993). Graduate conducting studies at the Janácek Academy of Music with Otakar Trhlík followed, culminating with a Masters degree in orchestral conducting at Bard College under Harold Farberman.

In Europe, Kevin has conducted Ensemble Intercontemporain at the Paris Conservatory, Hradec Králove Filharmonie, Beethoven Chamber Orchestra, Königsgrätz Philharmonic, West Bohemia Symphony Orchestra, Georgian State Television and Radio Orchestra, Dinu Lipatti Philarmonic and the Silesian State Opera amongst others.

Drawn to contemporary musical theatre whilst living in London, Kevin’s introduction to West End theatre came courtesy of Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Group when invited to take over musical direction of the long-running production of ‘CATS’ at the New London Theatre in the mid-90s. In July 2003 Kevin renewed his association for RUG as musical director for the South Korean premiere of this show. More recently Kevin has conducted ‘Wicked’ at London’s Apollo Victoria theatre and was the original musical director for the first national UK/Eire tour in 2013.

He is also an award-winning musical theatre composer and an arranger much sought after for his American Songbook orchestrations. His arrangements have been performed by leading orchestras including the National Symphony Orchestra (Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), New York City Opera, New York Pops, Boston Pops and by artists including, Marvin Hamlisch, Stephen Schwartz, Kristin Chenoweth, Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway, Raúl Esparza, Victor Garber, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, and numerous other A-list Broadway artists. Kevin’s symphonic orchestrations and arrangements are performed by numerous American symphony orchestras.

His own musical, The Stranger from Seville with book and lyrics by British screenwriter Victor Kazan, received rave reviews in its first limited season Off-Broadway production in July 2014. He is currently collaborating on the first-ever musical stage adaptation of the novel Castle Gillian a love-story by revered Irish storyteller, Maurice Walsh (author of ‘The Quiet Man’).

Kevin is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, a proud member of The Dramatists Guild of AmericaMercury Musicals Development (UK), and an Associate member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). He divides his time between living in New York and London.

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