Nicholas Michael Smith, OBE is currently the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Peking Sinfonietta and the International Festival Chorus, both based in Beijing, China. Both offer regular seasons featuring the world’s top soloists. Under Mr. Smith’s direction over the past ten years, the Peking Sinfonietta is now widely recognized as offering China’s most innovative programming and authentic performances, while the International Festival Chorus is acclaimed as the PRC’s best choir and the only group in mainland China working consistently to introduce the western choral-symphonic repertoire to Chinese audiences in Beijing and beyond.
Mr. Smith has worked with many groups worldwide, including the China Philharmonic Orchestra, the China National Film Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon, Teatro Lirico di Spoleto and the choirs of Cornell University. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Smith has conducted and helped to bring about numerous concerts of significance to the development of western music in China, including PRC first performances of works ranging from Bach’s St John Passion to Elgar’s The Music Makers, as well as the PRC’s first ever fully staged Broadway musical Lady in the Dark which featured stars from London’s West End.
Mr. Smith holds a degree in music from Cambridge University, England and studied conducting and composition privately with Reginald Thompson.
Mr. Smith holds both artistic and academic appointments. In 2001, Mr. Smith created the Peking Sinfonietta, which performs some of the most varied and ambitious programs to be found in mainland China today. Now entering his 11th season with the Peking Sinfonietta, Mr. Smith has maintained a high standard of performance and artistic administration, enabling the group to attract many of China’s finest instrumentalists. In 2002, Mr. Smith helped to found the International Festival Chorus. In addition to performing at least one PRC premier of a major choral work each year, this group plays an active role in commissioning new choral works from Chinese composers, most recently Dao by He Shaoying. Both the Peking Sinfonietta and the International Festival Chorus have an international reputation which continues to attract top international artists, who have included Dame Emma Kirkby, Justin Lavender, Lu Siqing and Andrew Nethsingha. Since 2007, Mr. Smith has been a professor of the Conducting Department of the China Music Conservatory. Mr. Smith was appointed an honorary professor of the Tianjin Music Conservatory in 2011.
In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on Mr. Smith the honour of Officer of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his services to music in China and to Sino-British relations. Mr. Smith has also appeared on numerous of Chinese radio and television programs, and in 2011 was given Phoenix TV’s “You Bring Charm to China” award for his efforts to encourage and promote western classical music in China.