Chris Swaffer


Premiere of Steve Forman's 'Sprawl' at Glasgow City Halls

"Chris revels in the quirky and unusual, with an eye for bold and innovative programming"


Chris Swaffer is Artistic Director of the Auricle Ensemble and has guest conducted many groups, including the St. Petersburg Academic and Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestras, Ensemble 11, the Orchestra of Opera North, Slaithwaite Philharmonic, NOISE Opera and the Metropolitan Ensemble of London. 

Chris' passion for new music has seen him conduct countless premieres, including Steve Forman’s ‘Sprawl’ at Glasgow's City Halls and seven world premieres at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with contemporary music group Ensemble 11. He recently premiered the opera 'Navigate the Blood' by Gareth Williams and the band 'Admiral Fallow' on a tour of Scottish distilleries for NOISE Opera, which was nominated for 'Outstanding Musical Performance' in the 2019 Herald Culture Awards. He conducted the first public performance of Howard Blake's Diversions for marimba in the presence of the composer with soloist Heather Corbett. Chris also lead a Scottish Opera Connect workshop on a new opera at Aberdeen University. With the Auricle Ensemble Chris directed several critically acclaimed projects, including Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, a two year Mini-Mahler project and two European premieres of works by Aaron Copland. One of these works by Copland, 'The City', was performed live to film at the Glasgow Film Festival. He also conducted Auricle alongside the band Admiral Fallow, arranging two of their songs in a special gig for the Celtic Connections festival, and more recently performed a new commission from Sarah Hayes, alongside works by Steve Reich, Jonny Greenwood, and Frank Zappa.  

He has actively participated in courses and masterclasses all over the world including in Vienna, London, St. Petersburg and New York, studying with Harold Farberman, Johannes Vogel, George Hurst, Colin Metters, Clark Rundell, Denise Ham and others. Within education he has worked with over 50 youth, amateur and student orchestras holding many Principal Conductor posts including at the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and Manchester,  and is the founder of the Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra. Chris is also on the Board of Trustees of the charity Drake Music Scotland.

workshop leader

He is also well known as a leading workshop leader in education for music technology and conducting, having provided over 100 sessions for teachers in the UK, USA, France, Germany and Australia and for companies such as Hal Leonard, Roland, Edirol, Finale, Music Sales and PreSonus. His skills as a presenter have also been used in other arenas, such as presenting a special edition of BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Music Machine’, narrating with orchestra at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and in presenting critically acclaimed ‘Discovering Music’ style lectures, the most recent of which have been for Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Walton’s Façade

notation software fiend

Chris was educated at Chetham's School of Music and holds a Masters degree in composition from the University of Manchester where he studied with John Casken and Geoff Poole. Chris' love for all things notation and engraving also lead to his current position as Product Manager for notation at PreSonus, looking after Studio One's score editor, and 'Notion', a well known music notation software application. During this time Notion has been featured by Apple numerous times, including for its YourVerse TV campaign featuring the conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen.

“revelatory...gorgeous...compelling…characterful...ravishing... **** ”  Mini-Mahler

"Elegant and assuredly capable" The Herald

"a delicate, technically impeccable and sensitive reading - an intoxicating performance. **** " Pierrot Lunaire

"a very professional and thorough session" Resonate Music Hub, Liverpool

"[the] production was exemplary in every other way: the line his cast traced between singing, acting, and 'being' the part remained invisible throughout, and Chris Swaffer's conducting showed the same skill" Opera Magazine

Latest News / Reviews...

New Opera Premiere

Conducted Navigate the Blood - touring Scottish distilleries.
The Times ****

Stravinsky Review

"Exceptional...a dramatic and musical gem ***** "
The Wee Review

Reich / Zappa

Devised ReWrite project with works by Steve Reich and Frank Zappa with UK premieres by Jonny Greenwood, Stewart Copeland and Sarah Hayes

Conducting live to film

Reconstructed and conducted Copland's first film score at Glasgow Film Festival

Music Education Expo 

Provided training sessions during flagship teacher event at London's Olympia

Review of Notion 6 

"Amazing...why look any further?" American Songwriter



Opera highlights and behind the scenes of 'Navigate the Blood'

Copland 'The City'  film score reconstruction and Premiere at Glasgow Film Festival

All about Auricle's popular Façade project, by William Walton and Edith Sitwell

Apple's 'YourVerse' TV campaign featuring Notion iOS

Introducing the new collaboration between Studio One and Vienna Symphonic Library



Click here to download images and text

Mozart Requiem, Barony Hall

Cheeky moment during Walton's Facade

Discussing Mahler's 4th Symphony with Una McMahon

Rehearsing Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera

Presenting Notion at Apple Store London


w: DW Artist Management (Auricle Ensemble Management)