Nicholas Collon

Principal Conductor & Artistic Director, Aurora Orchestra

Principal Conductor, Residentie Orkest (from 16/17)

Nicholas Collon is known as a commanding and inspirational interpreter in an exceptionally wide range of music. His skill as a communicator and innovator has been recognised by both critics and audiences alike.  In demand as a guest conductor current and future highlights include the Philharmonia, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, CBSO, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Gurzenich Orchester, the Hallé, Trondheim Symphony, Les Siècles and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.  In opera he has worked with ENO, WNO and Glyndebourne.

Nicholas Collon and Aurora Orchestra at BBC Proms

18 Apr 2016

Principal conductor Nicholas Collon and his Aurora Orchestra will make a welcome return to this years’ BBC Proms following their highly acclaimed performance in 2015.  On Sunday 31 July the...

Nicholas Collon and Aurora Orchestra new Finzi release No.1 in Specialist Classical Charts

11 Mar 2016

Nicholas Collon and Aurora Orchestra's new Finzi release has reached number one in the Specialist Classical Charts. The recording for DECCA has reached this position in only its first week of...

Nicholas Collon returns to CBSO

01 Mar 2016

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) welcome back Nicholas Collon for two concerts this week at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. Firstly, on...

Collon & Aurora: The 5-year Mozart project

22 Feb 2016

The Aurora Orchestra and Kings Place, London have launched a monumental five-year Mozart’s Piano project what is thought to be the first complete cycle of Mozart’s 27...

Nicholas Collon returns to Toulouse, BBC Philharmonic and Les Siècles

06 Feb 2016

Orchestre National du Capitol de Toulouse welcomes Nicholas back to Halle aux Grains on 12 & 14 February to...

Nicholas Collon conducts Trondheim Symphony and Sinfonietta followed by Residentie Orkest

13 Jan 2016

Nicholas returns to Trondheim Symphony Orchestra to conduct a newly commissioned work “Haykal” by Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen,  Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major (with Francesco...

Nicholas Collon debuts with NYOGB and RTE

16 Dec 2015

Nicholas Collon will make his concert debut with both the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in January 2016.  The NYOGB (with whom he holds an...

Nicholas Collon debuts with The Hallé and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

05 Nov 2015

Following a successful recording collaboration in 2014 Nicholas will make his highly anticipated concert debut with The Hallé this month.  Nicholas will conduct no fewer than four concerts at...

Nicholas Collon to conduct CBSO, Philharmonia and Britten’s Turn of the Screw

12 Oct 2015

Making a welcome return, Nicholas will conduct the CBSO on 14 October at Symphony Hall with a programme including Nielsen’s Violin Concerto with Pekka Kuusisto and Dvorak’s joyous 6th...

Nicholas Collon launches new website

15 Sep 2015

Nicholas Collon has today launched an all-new, revamped website along with some excellent new photography work from Jim Hinson of Stanton...

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“We began with the evanescent, gestural sound-world of Webern's Six Pieces, here given in their 1920 chamber reduction, perfectly poised under Collon, and with subtle homages to Mahler -- and more obvious ones, such as the combination of bass-drum and switch.  And so to the Mahler [...] Collon allowed the music to make all its own points, as Mahler would have intended. He drew a wondrously rich string tone, summoned the brass to awesomely terrifying outbursts, and presided over a myriad of vital instrumental solos. Pity that the listeners to this BBC Radio 3 relay couldn't witness the elegant modesty of Collon's conducting.  ”

Birmingham Post - Apr 2016

“Nicholas Collon piloted the BBC Philharmonic through playing that was both thrilling in its climaxes and eloquent in its softest moments [Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite], with lovely string playing (guest leader Simon Blendis) and wind solos, remarkable delicacy and expert balance.”

Manchester Evening News - Feb 2016

“The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s standard of playing is consistently impressive, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the ensemble is effectively reconstituted from scratch each autumn. Last night’s fresh incarnation, deftly conducted by Nicholas Collon, sounded as if they’d been playing together for decades, though without any sense of complacency which that might bring. When you’ve 163 teenagers squeezed onto a stage, the worry is that the details will get lost in a blurry soup of sound. But no; this account of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony was immaculate. Collon’s flowing speeds left no margin for error, and the two faster movements were played with pin-sharp accuracy and swagger. Collon nailed the Scherzo’s combination of menace and mischief, handling the tricky accelerando after the trio with ease.”

The Arts Desk - Jan 2016

“The Mozart Idomeneo (Ballet music) was an agreeable hors d’oeuvreto the main courses of the evening, giving the BBC Philharmonic’s string section an opportunity to display silken lyrical textures. Nicholas Collon’s conducting seemed almost “scoreless”, such was his ease in the music, and the entire ensemble displayed crisp articulation and a keen sense of timing.”

Bachtrack - Aug 2015

“Let’s be clear: without the suppleness of conductor Nicholas Collon, who seems to wax ever more authoritative in clarity of intent with each concert he gives - the last was at the Proms on Sunday - and a certain leeway given to the highly artistic principals of the BBC Philharmonic, Bavouzet’s bird of paradise [Ravel: Piano Concerto in G] could not have flourished alone. [...] Collon is now a watchful master with an elegant and expressive technique; what you see is what you get, starting here with clean and well-projected Mozart Idomeneo (Ballet music).”

The Arts Desk - Aug 2015

“...I have to lead with the towering and emotionally-devastating performance by these masterly young orchestral musicians [National Youth Orchestra of Scotland] of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. How do they do this at that age? Where do youngsters get that emotional maturity? Where do they find the experience that can give a performance the depth that this one so clearly possessed? The sheer chemistry of dynamic conductor Nicholas Collon had much to do with harnessing and releasing it, of course. The whole thing was rich, robust, dark and endlessly-warm, with an electrifying second movement and a slow movement that ached with melancholy.”

Herald Scotland - Apr 2015

“Collon stepped straight into a fairly brusque Molto moderato [Vaughan Williams: A Pastoral Symphony] , pushing along the fascinating colours of this wonderful movement. He managed to find both its dreamy and unsettling nature – Vaughan Williams’s enigmatic questioning. In contrast to Andrew Manze’s almost-impressionistic interpretation at the BBC Proms this year, Collon did not meander or indulge and the clarity of the textures enabled one to hear the music afresh, with a perfect understatement that did not lose momentum and the richly defined calls and responses.”

Classical Source - Oct 2014

“Conductor Nicholas Collon concluded the programme with a bracing rendition of Schoeberg's First Chamber Symphony. Tempos were generally fast, and often sped up to excitable climaxes, but this too was a performance all about detail and clarity of texture [...] the sheer energy of the performance, and the clear, unfussy interpretive style, were enough to ensure that innovation of this music was always apparent. The musicality, too, of Schoenberg’s groundbreaking ideas, was fully expressed.”

Bachtrack - Sep 2014

“Under their artistic director Nicholas Collon, the Aurora Orchestra played Mozart’s Symphony No 40 in G minor standing up and from memory – the absence of music-stands and scores freeing them to truly listen and communicate. In a less successful performance it might have seemed like an attention-seeking gimmick, but Collon drew crisp playing and caught the contrasting turbulence and elegance of the music.”

The Telegraph - Aug 2014

“But I have to lead with the towering and emotionally-devastating performance by these masterly young orchestral musicians [National Youth Orchestra of Scotland] of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. How do they do this at that age? Where do youngsters get that emotional maturity? Where do they find the experience that can give a performance the depth that this one so clearly possessed? The sheer chemistry of dynamic conductor Nicholas Collon (pictured) had much to do with harnessing and releasing it, of course. The whole thing was rich, robust, dark and endlessly-warm, with an electrifying second movement and a slow movement that ached with melancholy. ”

Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland - Apr 2015

“Nicholas Collon conducted the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse this evening with unbridled energy and took particular care to channel the fiery lava of his soloist, delivering overall a deeply penetrating vision of this concerto. In Vaughan Williams’ 6th Symphony, Nicholas Collon is once again very engaged and draws from the Orchestre du Capitole a mastery and energy that translate with depth and brilliance this tortured lamentation with its sardonic overtones.”

Utmiol - Apr 2014

“[In Britten’s Four Sea Interludes] he brings out the starkness of the contrasts, the strength of the features; rather Van Gogh than Turner. Thus, after the impalpable atmosphere of “Moonlight”, charged with a moving dreaminess, he unleashes a tempest (“Storm”) that is more realistic than in nature. It was as if huge powerful waves were breaking over the stage. It was the knowledge, precision and passion of Nicholas Collon, enthusiastically applauded by both public and musicians, that were the key to this successful performance of Vaughan Williams’ 6th Symphony.”

Classic Toulouse - Apr 2014

“Yet another outstanding concert for the Orchestre du Capitole. …. the young British conductor, Nicholas Collon, brings out the best in both orchestral players and soloists in works by his compatriots Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Under his baton, the Sea Interludes from “Peter Grimes” and the Violin Concerto by the former, and the 6th Symphony of the latter are dazzling with orchestral virtuosity and full of intensity of expression.”

La Dépêche du Midi - Apr 2014

“Nicholas Collon drew immaculate performances from his players and yet the music was only one element of this ingeniously conceived cross-arts programme. Refreshing the repertoire and broadening appeal are imperative these days. Nobody does it better than Aurora.”

London Evening Standard (Aurora’s “Insomnia” LSO St Luke’s –five stars) - Mar 2013

“A born communicator as well as an innovative programmer and high-calibre interpreter of a wide range of repertoire”

Evening Standard London’s 1000 Most Influential People 2012 - Nov 2012

“…the starry debut of conductor Nicholas Collon. Best known for his work with the Aurora Orchestra, Collon’s work here maintained his characteristic lightness of touch, bringing out the pulsing offbeats of the Overture and bringing the same clarity of drama and swift pacing to the subsequent action.”

The New Statesman - Sep 2012

“In the pit, an auspicious presence: Nicholas Collon, kicking off the new season with his ENO house debut. The Magic Flute is no small ask, but he seemed nothing daunted; the pace never faltered and neither did the sparkle.”

Jessica Duchen - Sep 2012

“Making his ENO debut was the young Nicholas Collon who looks and conducts on the podium like Simon Rattle of decades ago. The two-an-a-half hours fled by and there never seemed a dull moment as it was an unpretentious, flexible, quick and light-textured account totally in keeping with what was happening on stage. The ever-reliable ENO Orchestra played typically well for him.”

Seen and Heard International - Sep 2012

“Making his house debut, conductor Nicholas Collon delivers a lovingly-crafted and joyous account of Mozart’s miraculous score.”

WhatsOnStage - Sep 2012

“Much of the excitement came from the pit. Nicholas Collon was making his ENO conducting debut and enticed well-paced, zestful playing from the orchestra.”

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer - Sep 2012

“But for real colour, listen to what Nicholas Collon conjures up from the ENO orchestra. This is an impressive house debut: Mozart’s score is teased out with impish delight, but never pushed too hard.”

Neil Fisher of The Times - Sep 2012

“Much of its success this time around lies in the conducting. Making his Coliseum debut, Nicholas Collon brings consistent flexibility and momentum to a reading that never for a moment hangs fire.. He also proves responsive to his singers, who together comprise a quality team.”

Guardian (debut at English National Opera) 9.12 - Sep 2012

“The London Sinfonietta’s performance, conducted by Nicholas Collon with poise, passion and precision, created a beguiling dance of breath and bow, with energies overlapping and interweaving in a design as subtle and complex as the filaments of a giant feather.”

The Times (London Sinfonietta George Benjamin Antara QEH) - May 2012

“Aurora’s chief conductor Nicholas Collon guided us through the major works with panache. In a slimfit configuration, what registered most was the superb individual playing — beautifully phrased woodwind in the Siegfried Idyll, and an earthy kick to an Appalachian Spring that felt, as it should, as if the group of musicians had just assembled to dream it up.”

The Times (Aurora Orchestra's Far, Far Away) - Mar 2012

“I was gripped from start to finish. And the music, ranging from Ives’s morose Adeste fideles to the Bach/Webern Ricercar a 6, and from Nancarrow’s seventh Study for Player Piano (on the real thing), to the slow movement of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, was performed to exquisite perfection. ”

The Times (Aurora Orchestra's Thriller:Automatic Writing) - Nov 2011

“It is hard to imagine performances more assured and expressive than these by Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra. One of the most ear-catching discs to come my way in a long time.”

BBC Music Magazine ('Seeing is Believing' CD Review) - Oct 2011

“And a suitably historic hurrah, too, for the Aurora Orchestra under Nicholas Collon – whether swinging along to the Stone Age Jazz Song or pounding away thrillingly in the Sacrificial Dance from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring the young orchestra showed just why it has made such a Henry VIII-sized impact on the UK concert scene. If they get invited back to perform the Rite in its entirety, I’ll be first in the queue.” (Horrible Histories family Prom review) - Aug 2011

“In fact, it all made you feel as though you wished Collon and his Aurora Orchestra would simply take over for all the Proms. This was a truly life (and death) enhancing concert.”

The Times (Horrible Histories family Prom review) - Aug 2011

“The conductor Nicholas Collon had prepared his musicians faultlessly.”

The Guardian - Jul 2011

“As well as all the music enjoying the Sinfonietta players skills and devotion, in the three works he directed, Nicholas Collon, recently appointed as Assistant Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, impressed not only with his command of the pieces and his ability to obtain assured performances, for he also suggested that he was really enjoying what he was doing, his infectious enthusiasm a prime mover in the evening’s success of displaying the eclecticism of British music during the last decade.”

Classical Source - Jun 2011

“The CD is a wonderful calling card for Collon’s Aurora Orchestra. The CD lasts 73 minutes and 23 seconds and they dazzle in every one of them.”

The Times ('Seeing is Believing" CD review) - Jun 2011

“[Adams Chamber Symphony] needs playing, and conducting, of surpassing virtuosity. Collon's demeanour said it all: bendy body language combined with a razor-sharp stick technique. I only hope Adams, who says he's heard so many bad performances of his labyrinthine masterwork, gets to see and hear it.”

The Arts Desk - May 2011

“The symphonies were also very classy. No 27, with its teasing false endings and suave elegance, was full of sly exuberance, while No 31, "Paris", gleamed with hauteur and contrapuntal brilliance. There were a couple of shorter pieces, too – the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, furtive yet noble, and the dark, obsessive Adagio and Fugue in C minor. Founding conductor Nicholas Collon, has the rare knack of combining self-deprecating charm with great intelligence.”

The Guardian - Mar 2011

“The music was played with exhilarating verve and alertness. The sound of the orchestra had a properly ceremonial swagger, yet this was no old-fashioned, heavyweight stomp through Mozart. Rhythms were clean cut, woodwind solos elegantly shaped and textures beautifully pellucid. This is an ensemble talented and ambitious enough to wrench the initiative from more established chamber orchestras. It’s a generational turnover, and very healthy for musical life.”

The Times (Aurora Orchestra at King’s Place, “Mozart Unwrapped” series) - Jan 2011

“Led by Nicholas Collon, the performances were excellent, enhanced if anything by the informal setting and cabaret-style seating.”

The Guardian (Zappa/Varèse/Boulez, London Sinfonietta) - Nov 2010

“Clear-headed, fresh thinking and a born leader, Collon should soon be casting his own aura over Britain’s major orchestras.”

The Times (Aurora Orchestra at LSO, St Luke’s) - Jul 2010

“Full of surreal pastiches, nightmarish scurrying, frightening eruptions, eerie treble voices and disorientating timbres, it is a highly impressive attempt (admirably conducted by Nicholas Collon) to express in aural terms the turmoil inside a mind that has become permanently unhinged from rational thought, or indeed from its own sense of self.”

The Times (Elena Langer’s The Lion's Face at the Theatre Royal, Brighton) - May 2010

“Collon remains, vigorously conducting fiery and pungent performances. You could grumble about the over-elaborate frenzy of John Adams's Son of Chamber Symphony, but never about the musicians' precision in mastering the score's bopping rhythms or stamina needed to run on the spot.”

The Times (Aurora Orchestra's 5th Birthday Concert at LSO St Luke's) - Mar 2010

“Man, what did we come here for?" came an inquiry nearby just before the conductor arrived. Minutes later, no answer was necessary. Add to the mix...Nicholas Collon's excellent, transparent conducting and the overall effect was exhilarating, and not a little humbling.”

The Guardian (Julian Phillips’ Knight Crew (Glyndebourne Opera)) - Mar 2010

“...this combined with a provocative and arresting staging to make Mahogany's double bill one of the most exciting and electrifying evenings I've spent at the opera in recent seasons....yet even this vibrant vocal quartet was upstaged by the brilliant playing of the Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon, whose feel for Stravinsky's Russian colourings were beyond reproach.”

Opera Magazine (Walton’s The Bear and Stravinsky’s The Fox', Aurora Orchestra / Mahogany Opera) - Jul 2008

“It's been a remarkable success story. Founded just a little over three years ago, Aurora Orchestra, a sparky, young ensemble specialising in new repertoire and chamber arrangements of symphonies has already reached the threshold of big-name status. The current conductor is the name-to-watch firecracker Nicholas Collon.”

Metro (Debussy/Muhly/Byrd/Ives, Aurora Orchestra) - Jan 2008

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Nicholas Collon is founder and Principal Conductor of Aurora Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, a position he takes up in 16/17.  His skill as a communicator and innovator has been recognised by both critics and audiences alike – he was the recipient of the 2012 Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent – and he is known as an imaginative programmer encompassing an exceptionally wide range of music.

Under Nicholas Collon’s artistic direction, Aurora Orchestra have an enviable reputation in the UK and increasingly abroad and are recognised for their creative programming and concert presentation.  2016 will see the launch of two major series in London; as Resident Orchestra at Kings Place they will begin a 5-year cycle of the complete Mozart Piano Concertos, and as Associate Orchestra at the South Bank Centre they will present a new series ‘The Orchestral Theatre.’ They have appeared at the BBC Proms every year since 2010, including performances of Mozart’s 40th symphony and Beethoven’s 6th, in which the entire orchestra performed from memory. 

For Warner Classics Nicholas and Aurora have released two critically acclaimed recordings:  ‘Road Trip’ featuring music by Ives, Copland, Adams and Nico Muhly (winning the prestigious 2015 Echo Klassik Award for ‘Klassik Ohne Grenzen’) and ‘Insomnia’ with music by Britten, Brett Dean, Ligeti, Gurney and Lennon & McCartney.

In addition to his work with Aurora, Nicholas is in demand as a guest conductor with other ensembles in the UK and abroad. A regular guest with the Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic, in recent seasons he has also worked with the London Philharmonic; BBC Symphony; Zurich Tonhalle; Brussels Philharmonic; BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Spanish National Orchestra; Hallé Orchestra; Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse; Trondheim Symphony; Danish National Symphony Orchestra; Orchestre National de Lyon; Bamberg Symphony Orchestra; Les Violons du Roy; Scottish Chamber Orchestra; Warsaw Philharmonic; Academy of Ancient Music; London Sinfonietta; Royal Northern Sinfonia and Ensemble Intercontemporain and collaborated with artists such as Ian Bostrodge, Angelika Kirchschlager, Vilde Frang, Pekka Kuusisto, Francesco Piemontesi, Steven Isserlis and Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.

Future engagements include returns to the Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse,  BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé and Academy of Ancient Music and debuts with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Gurzenich Orchestra; Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg; Les Siècles; National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia.

In opera Nicholas has worked with English National Opera The Magic Flute, Welsh National Opera Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream and Glyndebourne on Tour Rape of Lucretia. Future projects include Turn of the Screw at Aldeburgh and LSO St Luke’s with Aurora Orchestra.  A champion of new music Nicholas has conducted over 200 new works including the UK or world premieres of works by Unsuk Chin, Phillip Glass, Colin Matthews, Nico Muhly, Olivier Messiaen, Krzysztof Penderecki and Judith Weir.

Born in London, Nicholas is a violist, pianist and organist by training, and studied as Organ Scholar at Clare College, Cambridge.

April 2016