Mark Armstrong is one of Ireland’s most versatile musicians with a career spanning over thirty five years. As a conductor he has immense experience both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. He has conducted all of Ireland’s top ensembles, choirs and bands – National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Film Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Baroque Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Opera Theatre Company, Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, RTÉ Chamber Choir, National Chamber Choir, RTÉ Cór Na n-Óg and RTÉ Philharmonic Choir.
As an arranger and composer Mark has created many works for choirs, orchestras and band and was delighted in 2014 to have been awarded first prize in the Mornington Singers Composition Competition for his original a cappella choral piece entitled ‘Dreaming’. He was shortlisted for the Italian Choral Composition Competition 'Seghizzi' in 2014.
Mark enjoys adjudicating at Irish music festivals and has acted as conducting tutor on courses conducted by the Association of Irish Choirs.
Mark’s close association with wind bands commenced in 1989 when he took up a commission in the Irish Defence Forces as a military band conductor. He has held the position of Director of the Defence Forces School of Music since 2010 with responsibility for the formation of Defence Forces musical policy, performance and training of Irish military and pipe bands.
'The sense of internal illumination, of individual lines being controlled by independent musical intelligence, contributed strongly to a sense, altogether too rare in the performances of large amateur choirs in Ireland, that these singers had real freedom of expression in this performance.They conveyed a real and sometimes thrilling sense of mastery, and they were under the command of someone who knew exactly what he wanted to do with it'.
(Elijah – Mendelssohn – Irish Times
‘Celebrating 21 years since he first took the conductor's rostrum of the National Concert Hall, Mark Armstrong led from the front in a highly charged and memorable account of Verdi's Requiem. The impressively unified contributions of more than 180 newly convened voices seemed to stem not from assiduous drilling or grooming, but rather from Armstrong's sure command of the music's emotional architecture and his absolute confidence that the chorus would respond to it. Whether plumbing depths of eternal uncertainty, or soaring to heights of terror, their singing retained a natural technical assurance that met the score's every extreme demand .............. there was constant alertness to Armstrong's fine balance of discipline and flexibility. In that ultimate musical wake- up call, the Tuba Mirum, the brass playing was sensational.’
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Liverpool Welsh Choral Union Tallaght Choral Society – Irish Times)
'Guest conductor Mark Armstrong was sympathetic to the work's difficulties, and tackled them head on. [the choir] were always alert to Armstrong's carefully timed gestures of encouragement. As you'd expect from Armstrong, who is the conductor of the Army No 1 Band, the wind playing was well coordinated both in the Requiem and in the ... Haydn Variations. With two scores so rich in wood and brass combinations, this was a notable strength in a strong concert'.
Culwick Choral Society - Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem – Irish Times
'The conductor was Mark Armstrong whose handling of this all-English programme showed a subtle yet firm grip on how to get the best from [this] music ..... The RTÉ Concert orchestra responded suitably to his precise shaping and timing via well scaled expression ....... a winner, full of character'.
RTECO – Irish Times
'Mark Armstrong's conducting produced natural shaping and an impression that the music was being allowed to speak for itself. That was one of the strengths in Mozart's Symphony No.38 'Prague''. The singing was impressive in its rhythmic vitality, clarity with words and control of dynamics. Everyone knew the music well and knew what was being asked of them.'
Tallaght Choral Society - Irish Times
'The orchestra was at its best in the Brandenburg Concerto, and the conductor not only chose excellent speeds, but kept the music tautly alive'.
'Mark Armstrong conducted a nicely shaped performance which found the Irish Chamber Orchestra seductively elegant'.
Pavel Nercessian – Pianoforte – Irish Press
'The RTÉCO and the Culwick Choral Society responded with vigour .......... ably conducted by Mark Armstrong who led his forces with a fair degree of theatrical flair'.
'I do not recall such a beautiful and ideally performed Byrd Mass ......... ideally balanced and beautifully performed. Mark Armstrong showed himself to be a very fine and musical choir trainer and conductor and the whole concert was something to lift one's spirits'.