Robert was recently appointed the permanent staff conductor of the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen. Alongside his frequent performances there, he has already appeared across Europe and around the world, and is in demand both in the opera house and in concert. His musical interests include a fervent commitment to new music, as well as to a broad repertoire of established works from Mozart to Ligeti.
Among recent highlights, in 2018 Robert gave the Danish premiere of Thomas Adès’ spectacular new opera, The Exterminating Angel. Working with an entirely new cast, and collaborating closely with the composer, the performances were acclaimed by audiences and critics.
In May 2018 Robert conducted Alexandra Spencer-Jones’s vibrant new production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, with a huge cast and orchestra.
In the winter season 2018-19 Robert conducted Flagermusen (Die Fledermaus) at the Royal Danish Opera. The show was broadcast live in cinemas around Denmark. Robert also made a debut with the Athelas Sinfonietta in Copenhagen, conducting Hans Abrahamsen’s sensational chamber work, Schnee – several more performances are planned for 2019.
Othe performances with the Kongelige Kapel (the Royal Danish Orchestra) have included Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Puccini’s La Bohème and La Fanciulla del West, and Verdi’s Rigoletto, as well as a debut with the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra, conducting Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Robert also conducted Richard Strauss’ Salome, in the acclaimed production by Stefan Herheim, jumping in at very short notice in 2016. He led a new production by Orpha Phelan of Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face, which won the Reumert Award for Årets Opera/Opera of the Year in Denmark. Recent concerts have included a Schoenberg series (1. Kammersymphonie, Pierrot Lunaire), concerts of Mozart and Ravel, Respighi, Fauré and Vaughan Williams with the Kongelige Kapel, and appearances at the piano for the Vaughan Williams Piano Quintet and Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps.
His conducting debut was the Australian premiere of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre at the 2010 Adelaide Festival. Further guest appearances have included Madama Butterfly and The Adventures of Pinocchio (Jonathan Dove) for Opera North, Hänsel und Gretel for Opéra de Rouen, Bernstein’s Wonderful Town for the Hallé, Le nozze di Figaro for Longborough Festival Opera, Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Aalto-Theater Essen, and the major new community opera Ludd and Isis (Richard Taylor) for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
Robert was born in Haarlem, Holland, and raised in the UK. He was a student at St John’s College, Cambridge, graduating with a double first-class degree. After some years as an organist and choral conductor, Robert undertook further studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, as well as at the Accademia Solti-Te Kanawa in Italy (with David Syrus), and at the Orkney Conducting Course (with Martyn Brabbins). His work in opera started with guest engagements on the music staff of La Monnaie, Brussels, at English National Opera and at Opera North, at Theater an der Wien, at Teatro Colòn, Buenos Aires and the Opéra-Comique de Paris.
As assistant to Michael Boder, Robert worked on a repertoire of some of the major works of the 20th century (Berg Lulu, Stravinsky Rake’s Progress, Schoenberg Erwartung, Ligeti Le Grand Macabre, Strauss Salome, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Der Rosenkavalier, Messiaen Turangalila among others). He also worked closely with Sir Mark Elder, Alexander Vedernikov, Paolo Carignani, Frédéric Chaslin, Anthony Negus, Edward Gardner, Julien Salemkour, and with directors such as Graham Vick, Christof Loy, Stefan Herheim, Valentina Carrasco and Alex Olle (La Fura dels Baus), Kaspar Holten, Claus Guth, Richard Jones, Tim Albery and Terry Gilliam.
Robert was a regular guest Studienleiter/Head of Music at Theater an der Wien in Vienna, most recently for the world premiere of Anno Schreier’s Hamlet in the 2016-17 season. Another enduring relationship is with the Longborough Festival, where he assisted Anthony Negus on Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Tristan und Isolde.
His feeling for new music has brought him collaborations with many celebrated composers, among them Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Thomas Adès, Hans Abrahamsen, Jonathan Harvey, Jonathan Dove, John McCabe, and Johann Johannsson. As an organist he appeared all over Europe and in the USA, China and Japan. He made a number of recordings, as well as winning prizes for improvisation at competitions in St Alban’s, Paris and Saarbrücken; and appeared as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of the Paris Conservatoire.