Meet the Conductors

Edward Gardner - Principal Guest Conductor

Edward GardnerRecognised as one of the most talented conductors of his generation, Edward Gardner began his tenure as Music Director of English National Opera in May 2007 with a critically acclaimed new production of Britten's Death in Venice. Under his direction, the ENO has presented a series of stellar productions, including Damnation of Faust, Boris Godunov, Punch and Judy and Wozzeck. His eighth season at ENO includes productions of Fidelio, Peter Grimes, Thebans and Benvenuto Cellini. In recognition of his talent and commitment, Edward received the Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2008 for Best Conductor and in 2009, the Olivier award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. In June 2012 Edward was awarded an OBE for his Services to Music in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Equally successful as an opera conductor outside ENO, Edward received immediate re-invitations from Metropolitan Opera, New York and La Scala, Milan after his début appearances of Carmen and Britten's Death in Venice. This season he returns to the Met with Der Rosenkavalier for a run celebrating the 100th anniversary of the work's New York premiere. Prior to his appointment at ENO Edward was a regular at Paris Opera and in 2008 he returned to Glyndebourne Festival Opera for Britten's Turn of the Screw.

In October 2015 Edward will take up his new appointment as Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra leading their 250th anniversary gala concert. He became their Principal Guest Conductor in August 2013 and has many exciting projects planned including recordings with Chandos and touring.

Edward has been Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since 2011. Highlights with the CBSO have included the UK premiere of Weltehos by Jonathan Harvey to mark the opening of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and Britten's Spring Symphony in Birmingham and War Requiem in St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate Britten's centenary year. The 2013/14 season will see the completion of a Mendelssohn cycle which will also be recorded for Chandos.

Edward enjoys a flourishing relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Proms and in 2011 conducted the Last Night of the Proms, which was televised live to audiences worldwide, followed by the First Night of the Proms in 2012. His other ongoing relationships in the UK include the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Edward also works regularly with young musicians including the CBSO and Barbican Youth Orchestras and in 2002 founded the Halle Youth Orchestra. He conducts at the major music colleges in London every season and in September 2013 leads the opening concert of the new Milton Court Concert Hall for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Internationally, the 2013/14 season and beyond will see Edward conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Frankfurt Radio, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Toronto Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Orchestra and Danish National Symphony. During recent seasons Edward has also worked with the NHK Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Houston Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

An exclusive recording artist for Chandos, Edward has most recently released critically acclaimed discs of Lutoslawski, Britten and Berio vocal and orchestral works. He has also made a number of recordings for EMI Records; Alison Balsom/Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Kate Royal/the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Kate Royal/English National Opera Orchestra.

Born in Gloucester in 1974, Edward was educated at Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music where he studied under the instruction of Colin Metters. He graduated in 2000 and went on to assist Mark Elder at The Hallé Orchestra for 3 years before being named as Musical Director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 2004, a position he held for 3 years.

Michael Seal - CBSO Associate Conductor

Read an interview with Michael Seal here

Mike SealMichael Seal has established a reputation as one of the UK's most versatile conductors, his career going from strength to strength, conducting orchestras both across the UK and abroad.

In March 2011, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The appointment recognised his work as Assistant Conductor, the first in their history, and the special relationship he has built between himself and the orchestra.

Michael has conducted the CBSO in numerous highly acclaimed projects. He has conducted them in a performance of Lutoslawski's 'Chain I' at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, given world premieres of music by Richard Causton and Jonathan Girling, appeared with them at the Aldeburgh and Malvern Festivals, as well as venues in London, Manchester and the Midlands. His first Subscription Concert in March 2007, with a programme including Hugh Wood’s Piano Concerto, with Joanna MacGregor as soloist, and Walton's Symphony No.1, was broadcast by BBC Radio 3. Michael has also collaborated with Saregama and the CBSO in projects featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sonu Niigaam, culminating in the release of the ground-breaking CD, Rafi Resurrected.

In March 2012, Michael stood in for CBSO music director Andris Nelsons, when family circumstances forced Nelsons to return to Latvia at short notice during the Orchestra’s prestigious European tour. To great media and audience acclaim, Michael conducted concerts in Dortmund, Heidelberg and Baden-Baden with soloists Jonas Kaufmann and Rudolf Buchbinder, as well as a Birmingham matinée performance of Sibelius’s Second Symphony.

Michael has special bond with the CBSO Youth Orchestra, conducting them on numerous occasions, and being involved with them since its foundation. He is also Artistic Advisor and Conductor for the CBSOYO Academy, a chamber orchestra formed in 2007, and conducted them in Birmingham and the Three Choirs Festival.

Michael has conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Filarmonica de Buenos Aires, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. In 2010 - 11, he made his debut with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and in 2011 he has debuts with both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. In September 2011 he returns to Buenos Aires to conduct the Orquestra Academica del Teatro Colon.

Michael has been Principal Conductor of the Sinfonia of Birmingham since 2002, frequently performing concerti with CBSO members and leading them on highly successful tours of the Rhine and Mosel valleys, Tuscany, Holland and Poland. He has also been a regular guest conductor with the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra since they gave him his conducting debut in 1996. Michael has also conducted the Midland Concert Orchestra, Birmingham University Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra, including tours of the Czech Republic in 2008 and Barcelona in 2010.

His future work with the CBSO includes Cartoon Classics on 9 Nov alongside TV personality and all-round entertainer Sue Perkins and Schools and Family concerts.

Michael studied violin and composition at the Birmingham Conservatoire and has studied conducting with Jonathan Del Mar, Sakari Oramo, Andris Nelsons and Jorma Panula.

Simon Halsey
Chorus Director: City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses

Simon Halsey - Chorus DirectorSimon Halsey is one of the world's leading conductors of choral repertoire, regularly conducting prestigious orchestras and choirs worldwide. Halsey holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Berlin Radio Choir, frequently collaborating with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Marek Janowski. He has been Chorus Director of the CBSO Chorus for over 25 years, and works closely there with the orchestra's Music Director Andris Nelsons. In 2012 he was announced as Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, working closely with LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev and leading choral strategy across the LSO's performance and education programmes. Simon Halsey also holds the positions of Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic's Youth Choral Programme and Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir.

Recent projects for Halsey with the Berlin Radio Choir have included performances of Bizet's Carmen at the Salzburg Easter Festival 2012 with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle. He furthermore prepared the choir for Tallis' 40-part motet Spem in alium and Antonio Lotti's Crucifixus, in a programme with Mahler's Eighth Symphony which concluded Musikfest Berlin, as well as for Jonathan Harvey's grand new work Weltethos. As Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic Youth Choral Programme, Halsey will be responsible for leading a long-term education and performance project, bringing together a diverse range of young singers from all over Berlin to act as a large-scale youth chorus and partner to the Berlin Philharmonic for concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie and on tour.

Upcoming projects in the 2012/13 season with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus include Szymanowski Stabat Mater and "Song of the Night" with Valery Gergiev, Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, also with Gergiev, and Mozart Requiem with Sir Colin Davis. Highlights of Simon Halsey's work in Birmingham include Symphony Hall's 21st anniversary concerts in June where he will be conducting the CBSO and its Chorus in Elgar's final, deeply personal masterpiece The Music Makers. His work in Birmingham is complemented by a new role as Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham. Simon Halsey held the position of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997-2008, and the position of Principal Conductor, Choral Programme of the Northern Sinfonia from 2004-2012.

Halsey has worked on countless major recording projects, many of which have won major awards including several Gramophone Awards and Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In February 2011 Halsey received his third Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for the recording of L'Amour de Loin by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, having previously won a Grammy in both 2008 and 2009 for the Berlin Radio Choir's recordings of works by Brahms and Stravinsky respectively.

In addition to the three Grammy-winning recordings, Halsey has made four recordings conducting the Berlin Radio Choir: Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem recorded on Coviello Classics; XL, a disc of choral music including works by Tallis, Bach, Kodály and Harvey recorded on Harmonia Mundi; Christian Jost's Angst and Simple Gifts, featuring works by Britten, Copland, Barber and Tippett, both on the Coviello label.

Other landmark recordings include Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; Beethoven's 9th Symphony on EMI, in a live recording with the CBSO Chorus, Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle and Mahler's 2nd Symphony with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Augér on EMI. Simon Halsey's book and DVD Master Class Chorleitung was published by Schott Music in 2011.

In January 2011, Simon Halsey was presented with the prestigious Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse, Germany's Order of Merit by State Cultural Secretary André Schmitz in Berlin. This is in recognition of outstanding services to choral music in Germany.

Alpesh Chauhan - Assistant Conductor

Alpesh ChauhanAlpesh Chauhan is the Assistant Conductor at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, mentored by Music Director Andris Nelsons, Principal Guest Conductor Edward Gardner and visiting guests. In addition to assisting Maestro Nelsons with performances at the Grafenegg and Lucerne Festivals, as well as the orchestra's recent tour to Germany, Alpesh conducted the CBSO for a Family Concert at Birmingham's Symphony Hall and is scheduled to conduct the Summer Showcase in 2015. Highlights of Alpesh's career so far include engagements with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and a last minute step-in to conduct students from the Royal Northern College of Music, performing Steve Reich's Double Sextet at the Southbank Centre, London. By way of background, in 2005, Alpesh joined the CBSO Youth Orchestra and became their principal cellist. In 2007 he began taking conducting master classes as part of the Youth Orchestra Academy. He joined the RNCM in 2008 to study the cello with Eduardo Vassallo before deciding to pursue the prestigious Masters Conducting Course, mentored by Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. Alpesh has participated in master classes with Juanjo Mena, Vasily Petrenko, Jac van Steen and the Ulster Orchestra, and has studied with conductors of renown including Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.