2019 – Present – Rita Castro Blanco
Rita Castro Blanco is a young Portuguese conductor, and a recent graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music, obtaining a degree of Master in Music under the guidance of Clark Rundell and Mark Heron.
Her 2018/19 season culminated in a performance with the BBC Philharmonic, which will include a piece by the Portuguese composer Freitas Branco and première of a saxophone concerto by Tom Harrold, the award-wining Scottish composer who has worked with renowned orchestras like BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra. Rita’s latests engagements include amateur and semi-pro orchestras throughout the United Kingdom, such as Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Stockport Symphony Orchestra, Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra, Alderly Edge Symphony Orchestra and she has given many conservatoire level concerts in institutional and self-curated capacities with various RNCM ensembles.
In January 2019 Rita was chosen to represent the RCNM in a private masterclass with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, lead by Martyn Brabbins, and will again participate in a masterclass and public concert with the BBC Philharmonic in September 2019.
Since the 2017/18 season, she has worked as Assistant Conductor for principal and guest conductors of the BBC Philharmonic the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Manchester Camerata such as Vasily Petrenko, Simone Young, John Wilson, Jessica Cottis and Joana Carneiro. At the Royal Northern College of Music, Rita was also Assistant Conductor and Off-Stage Conductor to Martin André in the production of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, directed by Robert Chevara.
While in Portugal, Rita has been invited to work as Assistant Conductor to Pedro Amaral, the conductor and composer of the opera Beaumarchais, a joint commission by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and Teatro Nacional D. Maria II in Lisbon. The collaboration with Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian has also led her to work with the Venezuelan conductor from El Sistema, Dietrich Paredes, in the summer courses of Estágio Gulbenkian para Orquestra.
Throughout her academic life, Rita has had the privilege to work with numerous renowned conductors and pedagogues in international Masterclasses and private sessions. This list includes Sir Mark Elder, Johannes Schlaefli, Mark Stringer, Martyn Brabbins, Vasily Petrenko, Mark Shanahan, Jessica Cottis, Tim Redmond and Jean-Sebastien Beréau.
Rita was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1993 and began her studies at the age of 5 at Conservatório Metropolitano de Música de Lisboa. She completed her conservatoire studies in violin and then started conducting with the guidance of maestro Jean-Marc Burfin, graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Orchestral Conducting at Academia Nacional Superior de Orquestra with exceptional marks.