Mark Laycock made his conducting début at age 21 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, returning to the podium of that great orchestra on several occasions over the ensuing years. He has conducted more than 2.000 works with a wide array of orchestras and opera companies in Europe and Asia, as well as in Israel, North America, Central and South America, with orchestras of London, Paris, Berlin, Zurich, Moscow, Kiev, Montréal, Mexico City, Seoul, and Taipei, among others.
Maestro Laycock has conducted the English Chamber Orchestra on numerous occasions in London and in the United States, and also appears regularly with the Wiener KammerOrchester, Orquesta Sinfónica Naçional de Costa Rica, and the Georges Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest.
In 2013 he conducted a highly acclaimed return to The Philadelphia Orchestra after an absence of nearly twenty years. His performance with the Wiener KammerOrchester and the Westminster Symphonic Choir of the Beethoven 9th Symphony was filmed by PBS for national telecast for its “Great Performances” series in the USA, and was recorded by Naxos Records for commercial CD release. His performance of Mendelssohn’s rarely performed Symphony No. 2 (“Lobgesang”) with the combined forces of Opera New Jersey and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra excited an enthusiastic review in The New York Times.
Mark Laycock was Music Director of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years, transforming that orchestra from a small chamber orchestra into a full and critically acclaimed professional symphony orchestra awarded Citations of Excellence for two consecutive years from the State Arts Council of New Jersey for “exhibiting the highest standards of artistic excellence.” He was also Associate Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra from 2000-2003. Over the years he has developed a reputation for stepping in on short notice to conduct without rehearsal, including performances of Ein Heldenleben, Carmina Burana, Brahms Symphonies from memory, and complete productions of “Salome” and “Carmen”, all to great acclaim.
As a published composer, his Flute Concerto for Jasmine Choi, “Songbird’s Journey”, was premiered by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to a three-minute standing ovation in July 2014, and subsequently received a similar reception in its European début with the Berliner Symphoniker at the Philharmonie.
His Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, “The Orchestra Goes Out With a Musical Bad-Boy”, commissioned by the Clair-Obscur Quartet, received its premiere performances in Germany in September 2016, again to cheers and standing ovations at each performance. “American Fanfare”, written after the tragic events of September 11, remains an inspiration and has been performed by several orchestras in the US, and “Via Dolorosa”, a 32-minute work commissioned for orchestra, chorus, solo English Horn, Soprano and Tenor, was completed in 2016.
Maestro Laycock is the only conductor ever to be awarded the prize and title of William H. Scheide Conductor Laureate, bestowed on him by the renowned Bach scholar and philanthropist.
Aside from his musical endeavors, Maestro Laycock has also written a book of poetry, “After Snow: Selected Poems After Life Began at 50”. Mark Laycock and his family make their home in Berlin.
Compositions - A selection
Flute Concerto for Jasmine Choi, "Songbird's Journey" (2014)
This concerto was premiered by the Buffalo Philharmonic, and subsequently played by the Berliner Symphoniker at the Philharmonie in Berlin. Both performances resulted in standing and cheering ovation in Berlin. It is very beautiful and classically constructed, and has a very jazzy third movement. When it was performed at the Philharmonie, the manager of the gift shop told Jasmine after the concert that many customers came into the shop and asked to buy “the Laycock Concerto.”
"Mark, your Flute Concerto is a delight! Sounds as if you have scored with the concerto a home run."
Donald Runnicles, GMD Deutsche Oper Berlin
"Mark's writing for Jasmine is exquisite and takes the listener on a wonderful musical journey, one which I hope many more will experience over time!"
Dan Hart, Executive Director Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
"The goddess of flute" - Korea Times
"One of top 10 flutists in history" - Sinfini Magazine, UK
"A major talent with a robust tone" - Philadelphia Inquirer
Superstar flutist Jasmine Choi has performed throughout the globe in a variety of genres from solo, chamber, and orchestral to experimental, jazz, and pop. Her infinite curiosity has also led her to make her own arrangements of major works, including the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky violin concertos, as well as recent world-premiers composed by Detlev Glanert, Texu Kim, and Mark Laycock.
Selected as one of the top ten flutists in music history along with Marcel Moyse, Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway and Emmanuel Pahud by Sinfini Magazine UK in
2015, Jasmine Choi is a full-time soloist concertizing more than 100 concerts each the season.
She has performed as soloist with the Berlin Symphony, the Vienna Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, St.Petersburg Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, New York Classical Players, and many more.
She currently resides in Bregenz, Austria.
More information: http://www.jasminechoi.com/
Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra "The Orchestra Goes Out With a Musical Bad Boy" (2016)
This work as well has “taken the roof off the place” at all three premieres in Germany in September 2016, and is designed to be on a subscription program bookended with classical composers.
The piece was written for the clair-obscur saxophone quartet.
The last two movements would work well on any pops program, though the entire work does have a progressive narrative and satisfying flow from beginning to its wild end that has resulted in standing and cheering ovations at every performance.
"…Particularly exciting was the new composition "Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra". In a charming and endearing manner Mark Laycock introduced this thrilling work himself, and the music wowed the audience completely!"
"The four well known professional Saxophonists of "clair-obscure" thrilled the audience at the dress rehearsal on 09.09.2016 in the Weinberger Hildthalle with
the premiere of the “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra” by Mark Laycock."
clair obscur saxophonquartett
The main focus of the group is chamber music.
With the support of their mentor and teacher, viola player of the Artemis String Quartet, Prof. Friedemann Weigle, clair-obsur has developed into a highly sought after ensemble, playing venues such as the Philharmonie, Berlin and the Carnegie Hall, New York, first playing here in 2006.
The ensemble concentrates not only on original works written for saxophone quartet but also greatly expands and enriches its repertoire with unexpected transcriptions and stunning arrangements.
More information: http://www.clair-obscur.de/data/pages/pages-de/home.html
"Under guest conductor Mark Laycock, the Wednesday concert at Richardson Auditorium went well over the two hours and was dense with Schumann, Brahms, Prokofiev, and others.
Even when played at some exhilaratingly brisk tempos, the music kept everyone on edge in the best possible way in what was an extremely generous and highly successful concert - in live, immediate acoustics that were flattering to the Philadelphia Sound."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns