Presently holder of an ENO Mackerras Conducting Fellowship, Toby Purser is also Artistic Director and Founder of the Orion Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Peace and Prosperity Trust, and Principal Guest Conductor of the London International Orchestra.
He began his musical studies as a chorister and a music scholar at Winchester College, following which he studied piano in Vienna before returning to read music at Oxford, where he founded the Oxford University Philomusica and conducted the Oxford Sinfonietta. Having begun his conducting studies with George Hurst, he spent two years at the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire studying with Ilya Musin, and then a further three years at the Royal Academy of Music with Colin Metters.
Toby Purser first came to prominence as a prizewinner at the Leeds Conducting Competition in 2002, and was appointed Assistant Conductor of L'Ensemble Orchestral de Paris for 2007 following his participation in the Vendome Academy with Janos Furst and John Nelson.
Orchestras he has conducted include the English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Concert Orchestra, L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Kotorart Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Orpheus Sinfonia, Oxford University Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva, Kammerphilharmonie Graz, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the St Petersburg Camerata and the St Petersburg Festival Orchestra. He conducted the London Concert Orchestra for Raymond Gubbay Ltd at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the Barbican Centere, London. Working with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the tenor Jesús León, his most recent CD, Bel Canto, has just been released on Opus Arte.
In 2005 Toby Purser founded the Orion Orchestra, a stepping-stone orchestra for the most talented musicians leaving music college, and has developed it into one of London's great orchestral successes, receiving glowing reviews and recognised as a leading organisation for young musicians. Now performing over a dozen concerts per year in all of London’s most prestigious venues, he recently toured with them to Singapore as part of the Shaw Foundation’s ‘Ones to Watch’ Series at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatoire. Together, they have worked with soloists including Nicola Benedetti, Susan Gritton, Tasmin Little, Joanna MacGregor, Alwyn Mellor, Dame Ann Murray, Teo Gheorghiu, Martin Grubinger, Guy Johnston, Jack Liebeck, Julian Lloyd-Webber, Dennis O’Neill, Valeriy Sokolov and Simon Trypceski. With Orion, Toby Purser initiated a Composers' Prize, a Young Conductors' Award and a Great Young Soloists series. His debut CD with the orchestra was released in 2010, with critical acclaim praising his “passionate but finely nuanced” conducting.
For English National Opera, he has conducted The Marriage of Figaro. At Grange Park Opera, he has conducted Madama Butterfly, Eugene Onegin, Rigoletto and Fortunio, which was also performed at the Buxton Festival and with Opera Della Luna The Daughter of the Regiment, Orpheus in the Underworld and Tales of Offenbach. Other operatic performances have included Bailey’s The Black Monk for The Sirius Ensemble, Haydn's The Apothecary and La Canterina for Bampton Classical Opera, Hänsel und Gretel and Die Entführung aus dem Serail for British Youth Opera and Le Comte Ory for Chelsea Opera Group.For Pimlico Opera, he has conducted productions in various prisons, with a cast of inmates performing alongside professionals in repertoire include Carmen the Musical, Les Misérables, Sugar, Sister Act, Sweeney Todd and West Side Story.
This season at ENO he has assisted Mark Wigglesworth on Lulu and will work with Ryan Wigglesworth on The Winter’s Tale. He will also assist Edward Gardner on Eugene Onegin at the Opéra National de Paris, and Anthony Negus on Tristan und Isolde at Longborough Festival Opera, as well as undertaking concerts with the East Anglia Chamber Orchestra, the London International Orchestra, the Orion Orchestra and for Raymond Gubbay Ltd.