The British conductor, Kenneth Montgomery, was born in Belfast, the only child of Lily and Tom Montgomery. His upbringing was in Wandsworth Parade and he attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. His musical studies were at the Royal College of Music. He studied with Sir Adrian Boult, and later continued to study conducting with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, in Sienna with Sergiu Celibidache, and with Sir John Pritchard.
Kenneth Montgomery’s made his conducting debut at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1967; his early conducting engagements included work at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as an assistant conductor, assistant choral conductor and rehearsal pianist. From 1967 to 1970 he served on the conducting staff at the English National Opera (then known as Sadler's Wells Opera).
Kenneth Montgomery conducted the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonietta from 1970. He conducted Weber's Oberon at Wexford in 1972, From 1973 (or 19743) to 1976 he was Music Director of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He was Music Director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera from 1975 to 1976, and has continued with the ensemble as a guest conductor. In 1975 he also made his debut at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, conducting Le nozze di Figaro. In 1985, he became both Artistic and Musical Director of Opera Northern Ireland. With the Ulster Orchestra, Montgomery served as its Principal Guest Conductor, and in September 2006, the orchestra announced him as their Principal Conductor effective in September 2007, the first Belfast-born musician named as the orchestra's Principal Conductor. He concluded his principal conductorship of the Ulster Orchestra at the end of his 3-year contract in 2010.
Outside of the UK, Kenneth Montgomery made his debut with the Netherlands Opera in Cavalli's L'Ormindo in 1970, and he conducted Strauss's Ariadne and Capriccio at this opera house in 1972 and 1975. Montgomery quickly made a name for himself in the Netherlands. In 1975 (or 19763), he was named Principal Conductor of the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra ((the Omroep Orkest, later the Radio Symfonie Orkest), and from 1985 to 1989 held the same post with the orchestra under its newer name of the Netherlands Radio Symphony. Later, he was appointed as the Director of the Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor). He conducted a large number of broadcast performances for the Dutch radio during his many years with the Orchestra and Choir. In 1991, he became director of opera studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. He continues to make his home in the Netherlands.
Kenneth Montgomery is also well-known internationally for his work as a regular guest conductor with the main orchestras in Paris, the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), and orchestras in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA (Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and San Antonio).
His work in opera covers a wide repertory, ranging from Baroque to contemporary music theatre. His regular appearances with the Netherlands Opera include operas by Ravel, Falla, Janáček and Engelbert Humperdinck. Since 1982, Montgomery has been a regular guest conductor at Santa Fe Opera (SFO). In May 2007, Santa Fe Opera named Montgomery its interim Music Director, succeeding Alan Gilbert. Montgomery's tenure as interim music director concluded after the 2007 season, with the naming of Edo de Waart as SFO's chief conductor effective October 1, 2007. The same announcement also stated that Montgomery was scheduled to continue as a guest conductor at SFO for three operas over the years 2008 to 2011. In addition to his many international guest appearances at opera houses in the UK (Welsh National Opera; Tosca and The Magic Flute at Opera Northern Ireland at Belfast in 1990, and Figaro there in 1991-1992 season), the USA (San Diego and Baltimore), Canada (Canadian Opera in Toronto; Alcina at Vancouver Opera in 1991-1992 season), Australia (Australian State Opera, Adelaide), France (Opéra de Paris and Marseille; The Passion of Jonathan Wade at the Monte Carlo Royal Opera in 1991-1992 season), Belgium (Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels), the Netherlands (concert performance of Donizeti's Anna Bolena at Amsterdam in 1989; Hansel and Gretel at the Netherlands Opera in 1990), and Italy, where he conducted George Frideric Handel's La Resurrezione with great success at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Kenneth Montgomery has held a number of established opera posts. In 1985 he was appointed artistic and Musical Director of Opera Northern Ireland.
In 1991 Kenneth Montgomery was made director of opera studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where a chair in opera studies was set up in his name. When a new Opera Academy was created from the opera departments of The Hague and Amsterdam conservatories, he was appointed its first artistic director. Kenneth Montgomery continues to give conducting master-classes at the Royal Conservatory.
Many of his recordings have been issued on CD.
Kenneth Montgomery was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours. Other honours include: Silver Medal, Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1963; Tagore Gold Medal, Royal College of Music in 1964.