Londonjazz: “conducting and organising this event was the redoubtable Sandy Burnett, a modern day Andre Previn”

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music: “Amen to your pragmatism. Whatever one’s scholarly bent or aesthetics, your approach brings people into the fold, and that blows all dogma out of the window. Bravo!”

Sandy conducted JS Bach’s St John Passion at 19:30 on Sunday 4th October 2015 at St Michael and All Angels, Bath Road, London W4 1TT,  raising over £1,000 for The Upper Room.

Sandy’s work as conductor reflects both his passion to share music with others, and his expertise across a wide spectrum of musical environments.  Credits include the Southbank Sinfonia, Tallis Chamber Orchestra, Guildhall School of Music Big Band, Junior Academy Symphony Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music, and the Pegasus Choir. He revived Britten’s rarely-performed cantata The Company of Heaven at the Bedford Park Festival, and brought the Southbank Sinfonia and Guildhall Big Band together for a performance of the Black, Brown and Beige Suite by Duke Ellington/Maurice Peress.  A long-running JS Bach series at St Michael and All Angels in Bedford Park, London W4, has seen him direct a complete cycle of the church cantatas as well as all of Bach’s major sacred works.

Sandy has also worked extensively as musical director. At the age of eighteen, he made his professional debut in the theatre in the orchestra pit of the Liverpool Playhouse.  He went on to work as musical director in several productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre, and regional companies.  For Cameron Mackintosh Ltd he conducted over a hundred performances of Carousel in London’s West End. Venturing where most maestros fear to tread, he has led congregational singing for the School of Life’s Sunday sermons and appeared in the unlikely guise of a Country and Western bandleader, complete with wig, on The Graham Norton Show (BBC2).

His Bach project has become a feature of West London’s musical landscape. A complete cycle of Bach’s surviving sacred cantatas (1997-2010) has led on to JSB’s larger-scale works: the B minor Mass and the two Passions. Since then Sandy has been invited to join The Oxford Bach Soloists as guest conductor.

In May 2010 Sandy’s classical and jazz personas came together in a project he devised and conducted for the Southbank Sinfonia.  Works by Leonard Bernstein and Duke Ellington framed a newly-crafted arrangement by Malcolm Edmonstone at the centre of the programme.  Listen to a Classic FM podcast interview and read a warm review on the LondonJazz website.

For the RAM’s Junior Academy Symphony Orchestra Sandy devised an innovative Discovery programme in which he acted as both conductor and analytical guide. Concentrating on Janacek’s Taras Bulba, a key objective here was to bring a more “hands-on” approach to music theory and history by integrating these aspects into the rehearsal process. A subsequent project took a similar approach to Mahler’s Symphony no 1 at the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama; read the blog entry here.