We are delighted to welcome Edward Gardner as a Patron of BFC.

The performance of The Dream of Gerontius Gardner conducted at the 2016 Brighton Festival remains one of the most memorable concerts that BFC has performed in recent years. He brought an unforgettable combination of force and delicacy to the performance together with an infectious confidence and creativity which was hugely appreciated by the Chorus as we sang ‘off book’ with not a vocal score in sight!

Gardner was born in Gloucester on November 22, 1974. His musical experiences began when he became a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral, and he also took lessons on clarinet, piano, and organ. Gardner attended King’s School in Gloucester and Eton College. He was a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge was already interested in conducting, and he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music for conducting studies with Colin Metters, graduating in 2000.

From 1997 to 2002, he served as director of the Wokingham Choral Society, a regional post that had already furthered the careers of choral conductor Stephen Layton among others. In 1997, Gardner filled in as a répétiteur at the Salzburg Festival when the holder of that position fell ill. Soon after that, he became the assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder, and then in 2005, music director of the English National Opera.

He remained there until 2015 as his orchestral career continued to develop. He became the principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2010; his tenure there ended in 2013, but he has continued to make recordings with the orchestra. Gardner took the same position with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway in 2013 and was elevated to principal conductor two years later. In 2017, his contract was extended through 2023. His London Philharmonic principal conductor position was announced in 2019 and involves a five-year contract beginning this year.

With this varied background, Gardner has amassed a large catalogue of recordings in both the orchestral and operatic fields. Most of them are of Romantic music or music from the early 20th century. Gardner has recorded mostly for the Chandos label. With the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he made an acclaimed series of “Mendelssohn in Birmingham” recordings featuring music that had been conducted by Mendelssohn in that city. In 2019, Gardner began a new series of Schubert symphonies with the CBSO on Chandos; the second volume in the series appeared in 2020.

In 2019, Gardner was named principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, beginning in 2021. He started to bring his creativity to adapting to the complexities, and even seeing the opportunities of the pandemic world. In speaking about the series of films ‘In the Stream of Life’ featuring the LPO performing in a socially distanced format, he highlights the opportunity to do more with the stage and layout in the Royal Festival Hall, to be experimental in performing throughout the whole space and, find [new] resonances and sounds which were hitherto unexplored.

We are excited and honoured that Ed has agreed to support BFC as Patron and we all hope that we will find opportunities to work with such a creative and inspirational conductor in the future.

Photographed at the ENO, London 5 September 2012
Joint commission: ENO, Askonas Holt and Chandos
Benjamin Ealovega Photography