The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) has appointed Edward Gardner principal conductor.
Gardner, 44, will take up his position at the start of the 2021-22 season. He succeeds Vladimir Jurowski, who by then will have spent 12 years at the head of the Southbank-based orchestra. Jurowski will become conductor emeritus and will conduct four concerts with the orchestra per season.
Gardner, who is currently chief conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, first conducted the LPO in 2003 and has returned for concerts at the Royal Festival Hall, Snape Maltings and Glyndebourne. Most recently, he has conducted the orchestra in London and on tour in the US. He studied at Eton and Cambridge, followed by the Royal Academy of Music, and was Mark Elder’s assistant at Hallé Orchestra in Manchester for three years.
His five-year contract will see him working with the orchestra for a minimum of 10 weeks a season, including its London season as resident orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, on international tours and with the orchestra’s education and community programmes. Gardner is the first British-born principal conductor of the orchestra since the late 1960s.
“The LPO is the orchestra I knew best when I was starting out, as a student,” he said. “It is one of the great artistic institutions of our country – and one of the world’s great orchestras – with such a rich history and such a variety of conductors.
“I worked with the orchestra early in my career, and was overwhelmed by the brilliance and virtuosity of [its] musicians. Returning to it recently, I’ve felt a sense of pleasure and privilege working with this inspiring group of musicians and relished the passion and hunger the LPO brings to performance.”
Gardner’s recent seasons have included performances with the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, and his debut at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, where he returns in September to conduct Massenet’s Werther. He spent eight years as musical director of English National Opera, a company “that has a massive place in my heart. I’m proud of what we achieved together,” he said. In 2011, he conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the last night of the Proms.
Gillian Moore, director of music at Southbank Centre, said: “I’m so pleased to welcome Edward Gardner to the Southbank Centre family. While he has been doing great things in Bergen and around the world, Ed has remained a force for good in British music. His recent performances with the LPO have been stunning.”
Gardner’s first concert with the orchestra as its conductor designate will be on 9 October, conducting Walton, Bartók and Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony.