A message from London Handel Festival Director, Gregory Batsleer:


I write to share the news that, following the 2024 Festival and after 25 years in the role, Laurence Cummings will be stepping down as Musical Director of the London Handel Festival.

Everyone associated with the Festival joins me in thanking him for a quarter of a century of dedication, inspiration, and professionalism with the London Handel Festival. It is without doubt thanks to Laurence and his work at the Festival, that the popularity of Handel in the UK is as strong as it is today. His passionate advocacy for the Festival and Handel over the past 25 years is to be admired and celebrated.

Laurence’s relationship with the Festival began many years before his appointment as Musical Director. His first performances at the Festival were as a keyboard player for Denys Darlow in the London Handel Orchestra. He is now widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on Handel’s music and leading conductors of Baroque repertoire.   

As well as leading well over 250 performances at the Festival, Laurence both conceived and inaugurated the International Handel Singing Competition which has rapidly become the jewel in the crown of the Festival’s programme. He also founded the London Handel Singers and was a driving force behind our highly acclaimed partnership with the Royal Opera House. Throughout his 25 years as Musical Director, he has championed the rarely heard works by Handel and has placed the support of young talent at the heart of his work.

Though Laurence is stepping down from the role of Musical Director we are thrilled he will maintain an artistic relationship with the Festival and return to perform at the Festival on a regular basis.   

Laurence asked me to share the following from a personal note he sent to musicians and staff:

After much thought and soul-searching, I have decided to make next year my last year as MD. It has been a very difficult decision; the Festival has been a constant in my professional life and I will be forever grateful to you all for enriching my life through music.

I cannot believe where the years have gone and have so many vivid and beautiful memories of the productions, concerts and rehearsals, not to mention the HSC finals that we’ve made together in the service of the great Mr Handel.

I am so looking forward to next year’s festival. We’ve all come a long way since Denys was told that he had a bit of a cheek playing Bach’s music in Handel’s church and I am very proud of everything we have achieved together.”

Laurence leaves his role as Musical Director with the Festival in great health – and with an exciting future; we are all extremely grateful to him.

Our 2024 Festival promises to be one of our most artistically thrilling to date and a fitting celebration of a brilliant legacy. We will be announcing our 2024 Festival programme on November 10th. 

I look forward to sharing our exciting plans for 2024 and beyond in due course.

Yours Sincerely,

Gregory Batsleer