Musical Director

Ben Palmer - photo by Andy Staples Photography

Ben Palmer is Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia, which, under his leadership since 2007, has firmly established itself as one of London’s most dynamic and versatile chamber orchestras. From the 2017/18 season he is Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, opening his tenure with a performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony featuring soprano Carolyn Sampson.

This season he will make his debuts with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera and Southbank Sinfonia, and return to conduct the BBC Singers in a programme with actor Simon Callow, recorded for broadcast on Christmas Day. Other recent guest conducting engagements include the London Mozart Players, the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, Aurora Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the Orquestra Classica do Sul and Southern Sinfonia.

He has made a particular speciality of conducting films live to screen, with performances this season including a UK tour of Jaws with the CSNO, Home Alone with Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Snowman with the Orchestra of WNO, Neil Brand’s score for Hitchcock’s The Lodger at Brighton Film Festival, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at the Royal Festival Hall. Past film-with-orchestra engagements include Casablanca, Hitchcock’s Psycho, Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, Carl Davis’s scores for The CureEasy Street and The ImmigrantPeter and the Wolf, new silent film London Symphony, and Laura Rossi’s The Battle of the Somme. In October 2017 he was invited by the Philharmonia Orchestra to assist Vladimir Ashkenazy with a screening of the Shostakovich/Frank Strobel score for Battleship Potemkin.

As well as conducting his own concerts with the Royal College of Music Philharmonic and period-instrument Classical Orchestras, he is frequently invited to prepare the RCM Symphony Orchestra for conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Sir Roger Norrington, Jac van Steen, Maxim Vengarov, John Wilson and Thomas Zehetmair. He has enjoyed a close relationship with Norrington since 2011, working as his assistant conductor on concerts, tours, recordings and at the BBC Proms. Other orchestras he has conducted include the Gabrieli Consort & Players and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra (as assistant to Paul McCreesh), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Britten Sinfonia.

His recordings include music by Antonio Lotti with his chamber choir The Syred Consort on the Delphian label (selected as BBC Radio 3 Record Review’s ‘Disc of the Week’, and chosen as one of Presto Classical’s Top Ten CDs of 2016), a disc of music for strings (premiere recordings of Elgar, Malcolm Arnold and Robert Simpson), the DVD/Blu-ray recording of Neil Brand’s score for Hitchcock’s The Lodger for The Criterion Collection, and a recording of his own work, Bach Dreams, with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin on the Neue Meister label.

In addition to his work as a conductor, he is also sought after as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. A trumpeter and composer by training, he studied music at the University of Birmingham, graduating with first class honours in 2003. He stayed on at Birmingham to complete an MPhil in composition with Vic Hoyland, before moving to London in 2005 to study with composer Simon Bainbridge at the Royal Academy of Music. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARAM) in 2017, and is more than halfway through his lifetime ambition to conduct all 107 Haydn symphonies.