Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. This week, we sat down with organist and conductor Luke Mitchell to speak to him about the Deitatis Consort and the New Chamber Opera.
Luke Mitchell (he/him)
Organist and Harpsichord
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a final year music student at The Queen’s College, where I’m also the senior organ scholar. But, more visibly, I conduct at New Chamber Opera, and with the newly formed Deitatis Consort and Players - and formerly held a conducting scholarship with Schola Cantorum. More practically, I’m an organist and harpsichordist (and, at a real push, a pianist…)
What are you currently working on?
Plenty! The main focus at the moment is the launch concert for the Deitatis Consort - a choir largely of professional singers, drawn from Tenebrae, Continuum, Ex Cathedra etc as well as Oxford singers, with a performance of the Duruflé requiem at Keble. And then 2 and a half weeks later, New Chamber Opera’s production of Charpentier’s Actéon - which gives me a chance to re-enter Baroque opera (which I love) as well as directing with a harpsichord in front me (which I always tremendously enjoy). Last night I musically directed Menotti’s Opera The Telephone from the Piano in Rome, which was rather more beyond my comfort zone…! And, when I find the time, practicing for organ recitals.
What has been your favourite musical experience at Oxford so far?
Difficult question. Blow’s Venus and Adonis, my first conducting foray with New Chamber Opera, is very close to my heart - partly because I was able to do so much at the keyboard too, and partly because the music was so stunning. Some of the amazing singers I’ve been able to work with have left strong memories too - Maryam Wocial and Austin Haynes did a couple of concerts with me that were stunning. Some of the continuo playing with professional groups was thrilling though - Handel’s Dixit Dominus with Instruments of Time and Truth and Schola was tremendous! But I’d have to say the Oratorio concert last summer with NCO – Carissimi’s Jepthe, Charpentier Reinement and the two Lalande Grands Motets were all bucket list items that I got to perform with a fantastic ensemble and choir.
Where do you envision yourself heading in the future?
Certainly continuing to play keyboards somehow - and ideally conducting too. Baroque - especially French Baroque - opera is something I’ve always wanted to get the chance to musically direct, but the forces and scale make it a challenge. And doing more contemporary music! Which is one of the reasons I’ve started Deitatis.
Could you provide us with a music recommendation?
Well, naturally I’d say Duruflé’s Requiem, which can be best heard soon by the Deitatis consort…but currently, listening to a lot of stage music by Purcell - King Arthur and the Fairy Queen contain some fantastic music amidst the more silly bits. And I will always tell people to listen to anything François Couperin wrote. Or better still, play it!
For tickets for the upcoming Deitatis Consort concert, click here.
To find out more about the OUMS newsletter and our interviews, email Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.