Biography


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

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 debut with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra (touring throughout the UK), the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, the Orchestras of Welsh National Opera and Opera North, Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and Southbank Sinfonia, as well as returning to the BBC Singers for a programme with Simon Callow, recorded for broadcast on Christmas Day. In 2018/19 he will appear with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Cinematic Sinfonia, as well as extensive UK tours with the CNSO. Other recent guest conducting engagements include the London Mozart Players, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, Aurora Orchestra, the Orquestra Classica do Sul, and Southern Sinfonia.

He is one of Europe's foremost specialists in conducting live to film, leading more than 50 film-with-orchestra performances this year. These include the German premiere of Casino Royale, and screenings of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Home Alone, and Brassed Off, throughout Europe and the UK, in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Bridgewater Hall, and Symphony Hall Birmingham. His repertoire includes Psycho, Casablanca, Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush, The Immigrant, Easy Street and The Cure, the premiere of Neil Brand's score for Hitchcock's The Lodger, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, new silent film London Symphony, Peter and the Wolf, The Snowman, and The Battle of the Somme, and, in 2019, The Planets - An HD Odyssey. 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.


Please do not reproduce without permission. If you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please e-mail to ensure you receive the most up-to-date version.