Malta Philharmonic Artistic Director and Conductors

Artistic Director: Raoul Lay

Raoul Lay founded the Ensemble Télémaque in 1994 and was awarded by the Paul-Louis Weiller Prize for composition from the Académie Française in 1998. He went on to lead several ensembles in Europe: the Asko (NL), Modern (GE), Capricorn (UK). Philharmonic orchestras he conducted include: the Savaria Orchestra (HU), the orchestras attached to the opera houses of Bordeaux, Toulon, Avignon, Marseille, the Lecce Philharmonic orchestra (IT) and, regularly since 2015, the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO).

As a composer, he was commissioned by the opera houses of Bordeaux and Marseille, the GMEM – national centre for creation – and the festivals of Yonneen-scène, Détours de Babel, Présences with Radio-France amongst others. His works, often closely linked to stage productions (Cirque Plume, Olivier Py, Nathalie Pernette) are published by Gérard Billaudot (Paris). In 2007 he received a state commission for the “Cabaret des Valises” and was appointed associate composer for the SACEM/Ministry of culture at the Martigues National Theatre.

In 2011, he created the ECO (European Contemporary Orchestra) with which he toured to the Enescu Festival (Bucharest), Salle Flagey (Brussels) and the Venice Biennale. In 2013 he opened the PIC (Pôle Instrumental Contemporain), a new venue for contemporary music, in Marseille. In 2016 he created “Grandes musiques pour petites oreilles”, the first festival completely devoted to classical and contemporary music focusing on young audiences, becoming “Tous en sons” in 2018 and henceforth open to all genres of music. In 2017 he became the President of Futurs Composés, the French national network of contemporary music.

These last ten years, Lay conducted the Ensemble Télémaque in fifteen countries (France, Belgium, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Romania, Malta, Poland, Argentina, Japan, China). In 2019, he was appointed Artistic Director of MPO.

In the Press:

“Rigorous chief focused on composition” (Olivier Dahan, Libération), creator who “dynamites contemporary music’s manners” (Gilles Rof, Télérama), Raoul Lay defines himself as a torchbearer, an artist in the city heart for whom any music can be heard by the greatest number.

Principal Conductor: Sergey Smbatyan

Sergey Smbatyan is the Founder, Artistic Director, and Principal Conductor of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra (ASSO) – previously, the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia. For his numerous achievements in culture, the conductor was awarded the title “Honored Artist of the Republic of Armenia” by the RA President Serzh Sargsyan in 2016 .

Sergey Smbatyan has got a firm belief that music unites people. With this in mind, he founded the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia (SYOA), current Armenian State Symphony Orchestra, when he was only 18 years old. Under his leadership, SYOA received invitations to internationally renowned festivals and major venues. In 2015, the orchestra performed at MIDEM in Cannes and in 2017 during the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Poland. In addition, SYOA has had the chance to tour in cities like Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Abu Dhabi and others.

One of the most outstanding moments in his career as an orchestra conductor was his debut with the London Symphony Orchestra. Sergey Smbatyan conducted the joint gala concert with the renowned artist Maxim Vengerov at the Windsor Castle for HRH Prince Charles “Princes Trust” event. After the great success, the concert was repeated at Buckingham Palace in 2011 where he conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra again.

Highlights of his career include performances with the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in Moscow, the DSO Berlin, Dresden Philharmonic, the Warsaw Philharmonic at the 19th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Munich Symphony Orchestra and the Korean Chamber Orchestra.

The year 2016 was also prominent in that Smbatyan joined the renowned actor John Malkovich in launching a new innovative project – the fusion of music and literature.

Among the highlights of Sergey Smbatyan’s career is his 2018 European tour with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. Sergey Smbatyan and the MPO performed in the Mediterranean Conference Hall, Valletta; Philharmonie Gasteig, Munich; Liederhalle, Beethoven Saal, Stuttgart; Kurhaus, Wiesbaden; Philharmonie, Berlin; Musikverein, Vienna.

Currently, Sergey Smbatyan is the founder of Khachaturian Conducting Competition. A champion of Armenian contemporary music, he is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Armenian Composers’ Arts Festival (ACAF), Khachaturian Festival and the Artistic Director of “Armenia” International Music Festival and Competition.



Resident Conductor: Michael Laus

Michael Laus graduated in piano, harpsichord, composition, and conducting at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi of Milan in 1982. He later participated in master classes in conducting given by George Manahan in the United States and Vladimir Delman in Bologna.

Principal Conductor of Malta’s national orchestra for twenty-five years and now its Resident Conductor, he has conducted the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in symphonic concerts both in Malta’s main concert venues and on tour in Belgium and Italy. He has conducted several opera productions which include the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy, Die Zauberflöte, L’Elisir d’amore, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Otello, Falstaff, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Gianni Schicchi, Roméo et Juliette, Werther, Pagliacci and L’amico Fritz, as well as lesser-known titles such as Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto and Nino Rota’s La note di un nevrastenico. His performed repertoire includes the major symphonies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Handel’s Messiah, the Mozart and Verdi Requiems, Jenkins’ Mass for Peace and other works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with several first performances of works by contemporary composers. In July, 2016, he conducted the first European performance of Arvo Pärt’s Greater Antiphons, in the composer’s presence, and in November 2016 he conducted a highly acclaimed performance of Verdi’s Requiem. He opened the first edition of the Valletta International Baroque Festival in 2013 with Vivaldi’s Quattro stagioni together with Carmine Lauri, and the second edition with Handel’s Messiah. Other soloists with whom he has collaborated include Katia Ricciarelli, Cecilia Gasdia, Joseph Calleja, Brigitte Engerer and Andrea Griminelli, while he also works regularly with his wife, the soprano Miriam Gauci.

Michael Laus has guest-conducted prestigious orchestras such as the Bournemouth Symphony, the Slovak Philharmonic, the New Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Belgrade Philharmonic, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias, the Berne Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestra Sinfonica di Pesaro, the Sibiu Philharmonic Orchestra, the Moldavian Symphony Orchestra and the Croatian Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared as music director in operatic productions at the Berne State Theatre and in Oviedo. He regularly appears in the double role of pianist/harpsichordist and conductor in a concerto repertoire ranging from baroque to twentieth-century works. In this double role, he has won international critical acclaim for his recording of Cyril Scott’s Harpsichord Concerto. Future engagements include Jenkins’ Mass for Peace in May 2019, at the Mediterranean Conference Centre.

Michael Laus has recorded works for the piano and orchestra as well as orchestral music on CD, which have been released on Discover International, Unicorn-Khanchana and Cameo Classics labels. He has appeared on Rai 3, France 3 and Mezzo television channels. He is Associate Professor in Music Studies at the University of Malta. He was the founder and first music director of the Malta Youth Orchestra, and also the founder and director of the Goldberg Ensemble, a choral and instrumental group specializing in the performance of baroque music.