It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of conductor Kenneth Montgomery on 5 March, at the age of 79. Kenneth was principal subject teacher of the National Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting programme. Just last January he conducted the Dutch National Opera Academy’s triple bill of Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos and L’isola disabitata and Krenek’s What Price Confidence. It was the first time for him to conduct a Haydn opera. 'I have to do it before it is too late,' he said in an interview with the Volkskrant on 16 January 2023.
Kenneth Montgomery (Belfast, 1943) began his professional career at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and The English National Opera. In 1973, he made his debut at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In his rich and versatile career, he conducted many operas for the Dutch Broadcasting Corporation, from operas by Gluck, Donizetti and Rossini to Britten and Peter Schat. He also held guest conducting positions at opera houses in the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Additionally, he was chief conductor of the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Choir, conducting a large number of performances with a diverse repertoire: Stravinsky, Sibelius, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninov and works by countless Dutch composers, including Van Vlijmen and De Vries.
With the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, he made several European tours. When Frans Brüggen's health declined, he stood by, along with Ed Spanjaard and Daniel Reuss, to substitute. His collaboration with the orchestra continued after Brüggen's passing to great mutual satisfaction. In October this year, he had planned to announce his retirement with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.
Together with Frans de Ruiter, Kenneth founded the Dutch National Opera Academy (DNOA), and together with Ed Spanjaard and Jac van Steen the prestigious National Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting (NMO), jointly offered by the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague and the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. With his fellow teachers, he trained many young, talented conductors, such as Ryan Bancroft, principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Chloe Rooke, assistant conductor of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2010 Kenneth Montgomery was awarded an OBE (Officer in the excellent Order of the British Empire).
We will remember him with the greatest respect and appreciation. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.