At Magna Sinfonia we book professional conductors, who can push and stretch us as musicians to put on fantastic performances. We use a range of different conductors as we know this provides a really valuable and enriching experience for us as musicians. Each season we have a combination of returning and new conductors for the orchestra. 

2019-20 Conductors 


As a cellist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna has gathered over 20 years’ experience of working on the international stage, with world class conductors and soloists. It is here that she came to work on a regular basis with her conducting mentor, the LPO’s Principal Conductor - Vladimir Jurowski. She was appointed to the position of Director of the Centre for Wessex Young Musicians and the national award winning 100 member Wessex Youth Orchestra (based in Poole, Dorset) in 2007. 


No stranger to large venues, she has conducted in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall, her special interest in working with both young musicians and music conservatoire students has led to touring as guest conductor with the Royal Holloway University London Symphony Orchestra, as well as projects at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music.


As Music Director of the Southampton University Symphony Orchestra from 2016-2018, she was able briefly to dedicate her time to work on a total of 9 exceptionally well received concerts whilst also guiding the ensemble to two consecutive record-breaking seasons. 

The last couple of years saw Susanna undertake performances in both the UK and across Europe - Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and France. Susanna continues to develop links with new orchestras - this season including Magna Sinfonia and Kew Sinfonia and she looks forward to various new projects and further international touring now in the pipeline for 2020.

Spring: Jason Thornton

Jason Thornton is Music Director of Bath Philharmonia. He has conducted orchestras throughout the UK, Europe, America and the Far East, including the RPO, London Mozart Players, City of London Sinfonia, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Jykasyla Sinfonia (Finland) and the Kaposvar Symphony Orchestra (Hungary).

Jason grew up in the West Midlands and was recipient of a free musical education courtesy of Sandwell Music Service. He switched viola playing for conducting at the age of 16, conducting various youth ensembles and forming Sandwell Sinfonia, his own orchestra inspired by collaborations with friends. Studies for a PGCE brought him to Bath where he formed Bath Philharmonia and since then has had an amazing time making music with


everyone from local school children to some of the world’s finest musicians including Renee Fleming, Sir Willard White, Joseph Calleja, Nicola Benedetti, Jennifer Pike, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Jess Gillam, Peter Donohoe and Stephen Hough.

Jason is also a Community Music Leader, directing creative learning projects throughout the UK and abroad in numerous contexts, working with orchestras, schools, music hubs, festivals and venues. Jason currently leads the Bath Philharmonia Creative Learning Team; the only orchestral team to deliver a year-long programme of music making with Young Carers in the UK.

Jason has also been recently appointed Artistic Director of The Budleigh Music Festival in Devon.

Maxime Tortelier is an exciting talent emerging onto the international conducting scene, having made his mark as the Leverhulme Young Conductor in Association with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for two years until September 2014. With this orchestra he appeared regularly in concerts across the South and South West of England, and was reviewed as “outstanding” and “charismatic”.

Since then, Maxime has enjoyed invitations with other leading British ensembles, among which the Ulster Orchestra; the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, which led to an immediate re-invitation, at the BBC Proms; and presently the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. A Londoner at heart, Maxime now lives in Paris where he has appeared regularly with the Orchestre National de France. Other engagements in France 

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include the Orchestre de Bretagne, Orchestre de Normandie and Orchestre de Poitou-Charentes. The Operas of Montpellier, Toulon and Saint-Etienne have also invited him for symphony concerts. Elsewhere, he has made debuts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, and will soon make his debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo.

Ever eager to share his passion for music with the next generation of concertgoers and instrumentalists, Maxime frequently works with youngsters: besides numerous children’s concerts, he has had residencies with the South West Youth Orchestra (2013-2014) as well as the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland (2017). He has had a successful debut with the young professionals of the Lausanne Sinfonietta and enjoys regular invitations with the Southbank Sinfonia with whom he has built a warm relationship. In France, he has just been appointed conductor of the Démos – Lyon Métropole orchestra, in partnership with the Orchestre National de Lyon. Démos is a nationwide music education project.

Maxime’s first steps on the rostrum were in 2009 with the Sofia Festival Orchestra, at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. Back then he was in Colin Metters’s conducting class at the Royal Academy of Music, where he received the additional guidance of such figures as George Hurst and Leif Segerstam. His MA at the Academy was generously supported by the Gordon Foundation. In 2012 he was a semi-finalist at the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition and was singled out as the “outstanding participant” of a masterclass with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop.

Summer: James henshaw

James Henshaw is a London based conductor of Opera, Choral and Orchestral music. James worked at English National Opera from August 2015 to December 2019 – three and a half years working with the world-class chorus and orchestra as Chorus Master and one year as Assistant Chorus Master. In 2016 at the start of his tenure, James was the youngest ever Chorus Master at ENO.

During his time at ENO James conducted the inaugural production of ENO Studio Live, Jonathan Dove’s The Day After as well as conducting Olivier nominated Paul Bunyan at Alexandra Palace in May 2019. In October 2019 James made his Coliseum debut as 2nd Conductor alongside Music Director Martyn Brabbins in Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus, the first time a production has been mounted anywhere in the world since its premier in 1986. In April 2020 James will conduct three performances of a new production of The Marriage of Figaro for English National Opera at the Coliseum.

After studying Music at Clare College, Cambridge where he was a choral scholar and award winner as both conductor and pianist, James studied Opera as a repetiteur at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and graduated with distinction. James founded and runs his own orchestra called The Outcry Ensemble devoted to giving a world premier at every concert.

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We are fortunate to also work with the following conductors: