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 a sought-after conductor of choral repertoire at the very highest level and an ambassador for choral singing across the world. Since 2001 he has been Principal Conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, the permanent partner of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In the UK, Halsey has been Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses for over 30 years and, in 2012, was appointed Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus. In this new position, Halsey leads choral activities across the LSO's performance and education programmes.

Simon Halsey is also Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker's Youth Choral Programme, as well as Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir. Since 2014 he has been Artistic Advisor of the Choir Academy of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. Making singing a central part of these world-class institutions, Halsey has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe.

In addition to its work with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Halsey's CBSO Chorus is in high demand, working with other first-rate orchestras and leading conductors. Recent and upcoming highlights include performances with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgårds and with the Czech Philharmonic and Jirí Belohlávek. With the CBSO in Birmingham, the 2014/15 season includes the UK premiere of James MacMillan's St Luke Passion and a concert performance of Wagner's Parsifal. At the CBSO Halsey has also founded a Youth Chorus and Children's Chorus, as well as two community choirs in Birmingham and the surrounding area. In February 2015 Halsey brings together the CBSO Chorus and LSC to perform Mahler's Symphony No.2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker at London's Royal Festival Hall, celebrating Sir Simon Rattle's 60th birthday.

Since becoming Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus in 2012, Halsey has been credited with bringing about a "spectacular transformation" (Evening Standard) of the LSC. In 2014/15 the LSO and LSC perform Schumann's Das Paradies und die Peri with Sir Simon Rattle. In addition to its work with the LSO, the choir joins the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Alan Gilbert for a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the BBC Proms, and the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena for Beethoven's Fidelio in Manchester. In 2014 Halsey also conducted the LSC in a series of a cappella concerts across the UK, including Tallis's Spem in alium and Rachmaninov's Vespers. In August 2014 Simon Halsey was invited by the British Government to conduct a combined choir from the LSC and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival at a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery.

Under Halsey's leadership, the Rundfunkchor Berlin has gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey has also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats, such as human requiem (after Brahms) in collaboration with dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, which - in addition to performances at Radialsystem V in Berlin - tours to Rotterdam this season. Other highlights of 2014/15 include performances of Szymanowski's Stabat Mater and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Rundfunkchor Berlin tours Bach's St Matthew Passion to New York as part of the Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, in Peter Sellars's acclaimed staging, following performances at the Lucerne Festival and BBC Proms.

As Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker's Youth Choral Programme Vokalhelden ('Vocal Heroes'), Halsey leads a long-term education and performance project that brings together children from diverse backgrounds from all over Berlin. This season they perform the world premiere of Jonathan Dove's Was lauert da im Labyrinth (The Monster in the Maze), conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. In London, the LSO Youth Choir and Community Choir perform the UK premiere of Dove's new opera, as part of Halsey's LSO Sing programme. In June 2014 Simon Halsey conducted the world premiere of David Lang's Crowd Out, a community work for 1,000 voices, with performances in Birmingham, Berlin and London. Halsey's BBC Proms Youth Choir, which is formed of young singers from all over the UK, performed Britten's War Requiem with the CBSO and Andris Nelsons in August 2014.

Simon Halsey is Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham, where he directs a postgraduate course in Choral Conducting, in association with the CBSO. Halsey is in great demand as a teacher at other universities and has presented masterclasses at top universities such as Princeton and Yale. In 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert, as part of its 'Master Class' series.

Halsey has worked on numerous recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d'Or and Echo Klassik. He has won three Grammy Awards for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin: 2007, 2008 (Best Choral Performances) and 2011 (Best Opera Performance). As part of a new relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, Halsey and the Rundfunkchor Berlin recorded Spheres with violinist Daniel Hope, as well as Morgenlicht, a choir-only recording of German hymns, both released in 2013. Highlights of his discography with the CBSO Chorus on EMI Classics include Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle; and Mahler's Symphony No.2 with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Auger.

Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King's College, Cambridge. He studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera (now Birmingham Opera Company). He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and was also Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia's Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. Halsey was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany, and holds three honorary doctorates from universities in the United Kingdom.

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.