Winner of the 1999 Leeds Conductor’s Competition, Scottish born Garry Walker studied cello (with Ralph Kirshbaum) and conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is now Visiting Professor of Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In October 1999, at very short notice, he replaced an indisposed Daniele Gatti in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s opening concert of their Barbican season. Thus began an ongoing relationship leading to his appointment as Permanent Guest Conductor, a post he has now relinquished.
Garry Walker was Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (2003–2007), Principal Conductor of Paragon Ensemble and now enjoys a close association with Red Note Ensemble Scotland’s première contemporary music ensemble.
In the UK Garry Walker has worked with all the BBC orchestras, the Hallé, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, London Sinfonietta, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Chamber orchestras have included the Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields. With SCO he has appeared at the St Magnus Festival, with the ECO in Lisbon and the City of London Festival and with ASMF at the Barbican’s Mostly Mozart Festival. He regularly appears at the Edinburgh Festival and in 2003 conducted a notable performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Outside the UK he has appeared with the Nieuw Ensemble, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Collegium Musicum, Denmark, Musikkollegium Winterthur and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin. Further afield he has had re-invitations to both the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia and made his US debut with the Utah Symphony Orchestra.
Most recently he has conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in California, the Dortmund Philharmoniker, the BBC Symphony, National Orchestra of Wales and Scottish Symphony Orchestras and Musikkollegium Winterthur, to which he was immediately re-invited.
An experienced opera conductor, Garry Walker conducted both Britten’s Curlew River and the world première of Stuart Macrae’s opera The Assassin Tree at the Edinburgh Festival. He also conducted the Macrae at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio, David McVicar’s much acclaimed production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart for English National Opera, Cimarosa’s The Secret Marriage for Scottish Opera, Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at the Royal Northern College of Music and Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Outside the UK he has conducted Curlew River for Lyon Opera and a new production by Calixto Bieito of Hosakawa’s Hanjo at the Ruhr Triennale. In the summer of 2014 he will conduct a new production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen for Garsington Opera.
Future plans include appearances with the Auckland Philharmonia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra della Toscana and London Philharmonic.
Amongst the many international soloists with whom Garry Walker has collaborated are Maxim Vengerov, Truls Mørk, Mischa Maisky, James Ehnes, David Geringas and Branford Marsalis.
“Presiding musically over the show is conductor Garry Walker, who shows a profound understanding of the colours and textures of Janacek's idiosyncratic writing, and draws exceptional playing from the Garsington Opera orchestra.” George Hall, The Stage, June 2014
“The playing under Garry Walker's expert thrust is mostly first-rate…with woodwind nature-noises clearer than I've ever heard them.” David Nice, The Arts Desk, June 2014
“…the conductor, Garry Walker, kept the performance on its toes.” Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, June 2014
“Garry Walker's handling of the music is sharp-eared, to say the least, and he and his superb house orchestra remain totally alive to the score's nervous, tumbling surface throughout as well as to the darker currents bubbling underneath.” Guy Dammann, The Guardian, June 2014
“Garry Walker conducted with cool authority and the ensemble played with deceptive ease, making relaxed work of very difficult music.” Herald Scotland, November 2013
“The highlight of the concert for this listener (and one of the highlights of the season, actually) was Walker's performance of “Scheherazade.” The Scottish conductor obviously has a thing for it. His affection came through in almost every bar.” Drew A. Kelley, Orange County Register, August 2013
“Walker’s transition to the heartbreaking theme of the wonderfully lyrical Adagio was impressive, creating intensely passionate music that combined with the scent and sounds of nature.
On splendid form under Gary Walker the BBC Philharmonic strings improve each time I hear them, especially the silver-toned high strings.”
Michael Cookson, Seen and Heard, November 2012