He has been increasingly active as a conductor of modern-instrument ensembles as well.
McCreesh was born May 24, 1960, in London. He attended Manchester University, studying cello performance and musicology, but he wasted no time forming ensembles to realize his musical visions, including a chamber choir and a historical-instrument group. The latter evolved into the Gabrieli Consort and Players, which McCreesh established in 1982 at age 22. In its focus on late Renaissance ensemble music, at the time largely the focus of modern brass quintets only, the group was unusual. McCreesh also led performances of music forward to the High Baroque, including major works by Monteverdi, Schütz, Handel, and Bach. The Consort also backed several major operatic productions beginning in the 1990s. The group toured widely and was an increasingly frequent guest at European festivals including two -- the Brinkburn Summer Music Festival in Britain and Cantans Festival in Wroclaw, Poland -- that he established himself. He directed the latter event from 2006 to 2012, and the following year he assumed his first major position with a modern-instrument group, the Gulbenkian Orchestra of Lisbon. He has also maintained ongoing collaborations with the Basel Chamber Orchestra in Switzerland and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota, and his guest-conducting appearances include those with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic in Norway, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Sydney Symphony. McCreesh's recording career began in the 1980s and accelerated after the group was signed to the major Deutsche Grammophon label and its Archiv early music imprint in 1993, releasing a recording of the Michael Praetorius Christmas Mass the following year. Since 2010 he has also recorded for Signum Classics in Britain, issuing a recording of the Berlioz Requiem with the Wroclaw Philharmonic that year. His performances and recordings of 19th century music have been influenced by historical-performance principles. In 2018 he and the Gabrieli Consort issued the album A Rose Magnificat on Signum.