Alan Tongue

Taking English music around the world... and to England!

Alan Tongue presents A CAMBRIDGE MASS by Ralph Vaughan Williams

"It was a bright day for English music whenMr. Tongue lifted the score from the drawer... To regard this mass as an apprentice exercise would be a misjudgement. It is the real Vaughan Wiliams on his way to greatness.' Michael Kennedy

In 2007, Alan Tongue unearthed an unpublished and never performed work by the great British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams from his mid-twenties: his exercise for the Cambridge Doctor of Music degree. After many months transcribing the Mass, Alan conducted its World Première at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon on 3 March 2011.

Listen to this interview with BBC R4 about Alan, his discovery and love for English music:


About Alan Tongue

Alan Tongue believes he was lucky to have inspirational teachers. Celibidache, one of the 20th century’s great conductors, had a flair for teaching. Alan's choral technique he learnt later from Robert Shaw. Before them Thurston Dart was an influence on the interpretation of music.

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.


…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