NIGEL BATES started his musical career in the Regimental Band of the Scots Guards, leaving the army to join the Orchestra of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet and to hold an appointment as a Professor at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
After a freelance period working with most of the London orchestras and ensembles – which included a very varied musical diet of concerts, recordings and touring - Nigel was appointed Section Principal Percussion of the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden in 1993, where he very much enjoyed meeting the many percussive challenges encountered in the world of first-class opera and ballet.
In addition to his main orchestral duties at Covent Garden, Nigel was involved in projects for the ROH Education Department, the Linbury Theatre and ROH2 productions such as William Tuckett's The Soldier’s Tale. He was also active in organising ROH staff and artist charity events such as the Curtain Call for Aid gala performance in 2005, which raised over £200,000 for Save the Children’s Tsunami Fund.
Outside music his interests include technology, history, and film production. His short video In Rehearsal (about the orchestral preparation for the opera Sophie's Choice) was voted Best Documentary 2003 by the UK Institute of Videography, and in 2008 he completed a film about the multitude of anvils in Wagner's Das Rheingold.
As a speaker, he has given many lectures, presentations and masterclasses at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music in London, the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, the Victoria College of the Arts in Melbourne, the international percussion convention (PASIC) in Texas and many arts societies and interest groups. He has also frequently taken part in BBC radio and television broadcasts and has written several articles for professional journals and ROH publications.
Nigel left the Royal Opera House Orchestra in July 2009 as the family emigrated to Australia. His Australian projects included the establishing of a community orchestra in Central Queensland, an arts lecture tour from Canberra to Cairns, conducting the Capricorn Coast's first ever performance of Handel's Messiah (in the Sir Eugene Goossens version with well over 150 performers) and managing a statewide composing competition for the Queensland Music Festival.
In 2010, Nigel was appointed to the new position of General Manager at 2MBS-FM, Sydney's fine music radio station with a substantial listener and subscriber base. He enjoyed exploring the exciting opportunities and meeting the challenges that emerged as 2MBS (now Fine Music) entered a new stage in its proud history.
Nigel returned to the UK in 2011 to continue his work as a performer and creative leader and also worked as a producer on BBC Television's music documentaries series Maestro at the Opera and Pappano's Classical Voices. From 2012 to 2020 he was the Music Administrator for The Royal Ballet and continues to perform with many of the major London orchestras and ensembles including the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Nigel is a UK Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) accredited lecturer and undertakes speaking engagements across the whole of the UK. In 2017 he returned to Australia for the ADFAS Hume lecture circuit which took him more than 3000 miles through the states of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. In 2021 he spoke via Zoom to all eight societies in the New Zealand DFAS network and in 2023 revisited Australia for the ADFA Cook lecture circuit.