Alan Tongue


Over the last few years Tongue has been winding down his overseas conducting and concentrating on the UK. He believes he is one of Richter’s modest conductors: ‘…they are always trying to do better, and are willing to rehearse as long as necessary.’

2015: Author ‘The Love Letters of Percy French’ - The Lilliput Press

1990 to present: freelance conductor, working in Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Argentina, Bolivia, Ireland, UK.

1990-3: Chief Conductor of Northern Sinfonietta (‘Kevin O’Connell’s Violin Concerto could scarcely have had a better première’ - Belfast Telegraph).

1986-92: Chief Conductor of Northern Ireland Symphony (won the Novello Award in Edinburgh in 1991, showing ‘outstanding interpretation and a genuine understanding of new music in the general repertoire’).

1990: Author ‘A Picture of Percy French’ - Greystone Press.

1978-89: Television Producer, BBC NI

1973-6: Musical Director of The Big Band (‘well worth going 113 miles for’ - The Irish Times).

1981-6: Chief Conductor of Studio Symphony Orchestra (‘one must hand the palm to conductor Alan Tongue who welded together the many disparate elements to produce a performance that clearly delighted the audience’ - Belfast Telegraph).

1967-78: Producer and Staff Conductor, BBC NI Orchestra.

Six of the best:
Gerontius in Budapest
Alan has seized upon any chance to take the best of British music around the world, and Hungary and Romania soon became his home from home. Budapest Opera repetiteur and composer Jenö Pertis take up the story

Elgar Prize in Budapest
The Elgar Society Medal was awarded in October 2009 to the orchestra Duna Szimfonikus Zenekar for their work in presenting Elgar's music under my direction over the previous fifteen years. At the concert during which the medal was presented I conducted the Enigma Variations, which the Chairman of the Society described as 'the best Enigma Variations I have ever heard, in concert or on disc.' 

New music in Bucharest
In May 2002 I conducted the seminal concert of the 12th Week of International Music in Bucharest, a programme with the National Radio Orchestra consisting of four Romanian premières, works by Popovici, Teodorescu, Mellnas and Rotaru.  

Shakespeare in Craiova
With the collaboration of the National Theatre of Craiova I conducted in May 2008 a Shakespeare concert with the Craiova Philharmonic. Oana Stancu as Puck is in the photograph, rehearsing with me and the orchestra Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The second half of the programme consisted of a suite from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.

Belshazzar’s Feast in Buenos Aires
Being called at short notice to take over this Argentinean première I was impressed how members of the audience wanted to talk to me after the concert about English music and culture. It set me on a path taking English music around the world.  

Elijah as an Opera
For the Year of Opera and Musical Theatre in 1997 I put on a semi-staged performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah in Cambridge. For this I booked the world's greatest Elijah, Alan Opie, and auditioned for the other twelve parts. Dancers provided the action and combined choirs made up a large chorus. The work was repeated in Croydon, with Mark Holland replacing the indisposed Alan Opie.


…showed himself to be an orchestral conductor with a mastery of baton technique
The Planets - Adevarul de Cluj

With elegant gestures he produced moments of meditation and profound lyricism from this great work, real romantic Beethoven
Beethoven 4 - Cotidianul, Bucharest

Often a spiritual quality about this sensitive performance which moved me greatly
Tallis Fantasia - Belfast Telegraph

...finishing triumphantly with the tumultuous magnificence of Beethoven’s music... last Thursday’s concert was a great success. ...under the musical leadership of Alan Tongue the emotional vibration was much stronger than on previous occasions in which I participated... the English conductor, who studied at the Faculty of Music at Cambridge University, and a former pupil of the great Sergiu Celibidache, has himself had a brilliant career. The conductor’s innate talent and prodigious experience were particularly telling, offering a great interpretation of Beethoven’s famous work.
Beethoven 3 - Impact, Oradea

Tongue gathered the orchestra into one single vibrant instrument.
Tchaikovsky 4 - Actualitatea Muzicala, Bucharest

Superlative direction.
War Requiem - Belfast News Letter

Real festival fare, this heartwarming and clearly well rehearsed performance was a credit to Mr Tongue and his forces.
Rachmaninov 2 -Belfast Telegraph

All through Mr Tongue allows the players scope for expressive touches, a generosity well justified.
Enigma Variations - Irish Times

A triumph for conductor Alan Tongue - great credit must be given to him for his fine appreciation of the score.
Sir John in Love - Bath Chronicle

Tongue went straight for the romance and he got it.
Rachmaninov 2 - Belfast News Letter

As well as the value of the programme we listened to, besides the well-deserved applause for the soloists and the National Radio Orchestra, we must appreciate especially the conducting performance of the English Maestro Alan Tongue. Wisdom, calmness and discipline, the power of communication through an economical but effective gesture, are only a few of the qualities of this musician, due to whom the new works, both for him and for the orchestra, were successfully presented in such a discouragingly short time.
Contemporary Romanian Works - George Balint, Muzica