Biography


Ben Palmer conductor © Andy Staples Photography
Ben Palmer conductor © Christoph Pabst
Ben Palmer conductor © Maky Manole

From the 2017/18 season, Ben Palmer is Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck. In February 2017 he celebrated ten years as Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia (formerly the Orchestra of St Paul's), which, under his leadership, has established itself as one of London’s most dynamic and versatile chamber orchestras. Acclaimed for his innovative and imaginative programming, he is in great demand as a guest conductor, both in the UK and abroad. He has made a speciality of conducting films live to screen, with performances of Psycho, Casablanca, Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, Neil Brand’s score for Hitchcock’s The Lodger, Peter and the Wolf, The Battle of the Somme, and The Snowman, in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cadogan Hall and the Roundhouse. Recent and future film with orchestra projects include The Gold Rush with the London Mozart Players, Home Alone with Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Snowman with Southbank Sinfonia and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with Covent Garden Sinfonia in the Royal Festival Hall, a triple bill of Chaplin Mutual Comedies at the Proms at St Jude’s, and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. He was recently invited by the Philharmonia Orchestra to assist Vladimir Ashkenazy for a screening of Battleship Potemkin in the Royal Festival Hall.

Recent guest conducting engagements include the BBC Singers, Aurora Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Southern Sinfonia, the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, the Orquestra Clássica do Sul, the Kazakh State Chamber Orchestra “Academy of Soloists”, the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oxford University Orchestra. As well as conducting his own concerts with the Royal College of Music Philharmonic and the period-instrument RCM Classical Orchestra, 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 worked closely with Norrington since 2011, acting as his assistant conductor for concerts, tours and recordings, and at the BBC Proms. Other orchestras he has conducted include the Gabrieli Consort & Players and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra (whilst acting as assistant to Paul McCreesh), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and Britten Sinfonia.

His recordings include music by Antonio Lotti with 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 in great demand as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. Recent commissions include the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, the Haydn Society of Great Britain, Woking Choral Society and the English Music Festival. His music has been performed by such ensembles as Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the City of London Sinfonia and the Fibonacci Sequence, in venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and St John's Smith Square, and as far afield as South Korea.

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


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