Ben Palmer is Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, and Founder and Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia. In 2018/19 he will debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the NDR Radiophilharmonie, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, the Sinfonietta de Lausanne, Cinematic Sinfonia, City Light Chamber Orchestra (Lucerne), the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, and the Pilsen Philharmonic, as well as returning to the London Mozart Players, the BBC Singers, the Orchestra of Opera North and Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and touring extensively with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, and Southbank Sinfonia. In 2019/20 he will debut with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Heidelberger Sinfoniker, and return to the Hallé, the Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg and the Pilsen Philharmonic.
Under his leadership since 2007, Covent Garden Sinfonia is firmly established as one of London’s most dynamic and versatile professional orchestras. He took up the position of Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck in September 2017, opening his tenure with a performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with soprano Carolyn Sampson. His second season includes the original version of Bruckner’s Third Symphony at Kloster Eberbach, and Mahler’s Seventh at the Kurhaus in Wiesbaden.
Ben Palmer is one of Europe’s foremost specialists in conducting live to film, leading more than 40 film-with-orchestra performances each year. In 2018/19 he will conduct Jurassic Park (the 25th anniversary UK tour), Star Wars, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Home Alone, Casino Royale, Back to the Future, The Pink Panther (European premiere) and Brassed Off, in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, the KKL Luzern, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and Symphony Hall Birmingham. He has a repertoire of more than 20 films, including Psycho, Casablanca, Under the Skin, Metropolis, and Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. He conducted the first performances of 2017 silent film London Symphony, of Neil Brand’s scores for The Lodger and Oliver Twist, and in 2018 led the German premiere of Casino Royale. In 2017 he was invited by the Philharmonia Orchestra to assist Vladimir Ashkenazy with a screening of Battleship Potemkin.
As well as conducting his own concerts with the Royal College of Music Philharmonic and period-instrument Classical Orchestras, he has been invited to prepare the RCM Symphony Orchestra for Bernard Haitink and Sir Roger Norrington. He worked closely with Norrington between 2011-16, acting as his assistant conductor for concerts, recordings, and at the BBC Proms.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Ben Palmer is sought after as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. His recordings include a critically-acclaimed disc of choral/orchestral music by Antonio Lotti with The Syred Consort (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 recording of his own work, Bach Dreams, with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, and a live CD of film music with the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck, due for release in late 2018.
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, before moving to London in 2005 to study composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARAM) in 2017, and is almost three quarters of the way through his lifetime ambition to conduct all 107 Haydn symphonies.
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