Scottish-born Garry Walker is currently Music Director of Opera North and concluded his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie in July. He has held positions as Permanent Guest Conductor of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Principal Conductor of Paragon Ensemble, and Artistic Director of Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In the UK, Walker has worked with all of the BBC orchestras, Hallé, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
In the 2022-2023 season, Garry Walker conducts Puccini’s Tosca with Opera North as well as a double bill of Mozart’s Requiem plus an untitled, upcoming new commission written with guest artists from South Africa for the company. Alongside his opera work, he returns to the Aalborg Symfoniorkester, as well as conducting concerts for the Orchestra of the Opera North, opening the season with an all-American program of composers ranging from George Gershwin to Aaron Copland, plus later concerts to feature Elgar’s Violin Concerto, Beamish’s The Day Dawn, and Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2. Garry Walker makes his return to Scotland conducting the Aberdeen Sinfonietta in concert featuring soloist Alan Haggart, and appears in concert with the Leeds Conservatory in March.
Walker’s collaborations with chamber orchestras have included the Britten Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields. His regular appearances at the Edinburgh International Festival have included notable performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2,Kurtag’s Stele, and MacMillan’s The Quickening, all with the RSNO.
Further afield, Garry Walker has worked with orchestras including the Aalborg Symfoniorkester, Gothenburg Symphony, Dortmund Philharmoniker, Orchestra dell’Opera Roma, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, and Orchestra della Toscana. He has often conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia, and engagements in the US have included the Pacific and Utah Symphonies, and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.
During his tenure as Chief Conductor, Walker’s many wide-ranging performances with the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie encompassed programmes of Adès, Beethoven, Bartók, Britten, Berio, Brahms, Dvořák, Haydn, John Williams, Kodály, Mahler, Mozart, Prokofiev, among others. Together Walker and the orchestra made their Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut in 2018, resulting in an immediate reinvitation.
An experienced opera conductor, Walker conducted Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen for Garsington Opera in 2014, where he returned in 2018 for the critically acclaimed world premiere of David Sawer's The Skating Rink. At the Edinburgh International Festival, he led both Britten Curlew River and the world première of Stuart MacRae’s opera, The Assassin Tree. At the recently opened Linbury Studio (Royal Opera House) he has revisited the McRae and conducted Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine. Additional UK highlights include David McVicar’s acclaimed new production of Britten's The Turn of the Screw and Raskatov's A Dog’s Heart at the English National Opera, Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage at Scottish Opera, and for Opera North Britten's Billy Budd, a Gianni Schicchi-The Rite of Spring double-bill, Martinů's The Greek Passion, Carmen and Rigoletto. In Europe, he has most recently conducted The Curlew River for Lyon Opera, and a new production by Calixto Bieito of Toshio Hosokawa's Hanjo at the Ruhr Triennale.
Garry Walker has enjoyed collaborations with many internationally renowned soloists, including Maxim Vengerov, Sarah Chang, Jonas Kaufmann, Truls Mørk, Mischa Maisky, James Ehnes, David Geringas and Branford Marsalis.
His discography includes works by Havergal Brian and Matthew Taylor on Toccata Classics, Edward Harper on Delphian and Dvořák on Sony.
"Presiding conductor for the occasion was Garry Walker. Was this his finest hour? It certainly felt like it in the cracking pace at which he delivered Finlandia; sensationally thrilling yet having the breadth at the climax to let the SSO ring out that golden theme, one of Sibelius's most inspired."
The International Herald Tribune
"In this concert, Walker's first main-season event since his appointment as principal guest conductor of the RSNO, there was a palpable reciprocal pride and confidence between players and conductor. Anyone wondering whether he could bring a much-needed breath of fresh air into the RSNO's playing would have been left in no doubt by the end of this concert. Walker brought suppleness, variety and a definite sting to the music."
“The highlight of the concert for this listener (and one of the highlights of the season, actually) was Walker's performance of "Scheherazade”… His affection came through in almost every bar. Walker painted vivid pictures but also told the story. It was a case of balancing the special effects of the orchestration with the pacing of the whole. He coaxed all the voluptuary shapes in the broad string melodies, made the dances nimble and crisp, and vaulted the tricky transitions in single bounds. He never pushed and made the cinematic climaxes the old-fashioned way, by earning them. This was all helped by a light touch (call it taste) and an attention to instrumental balances; we could hear everything.”
The Orange County Register
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