Garry Walker

Conductor

"Garry Walker conducts with a dark intensity that brings out both the score’s violence and its extraordinary moments of ecstatic lyricism."

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

"The orchestra, under the music director designate Garry Walker, play with a suppleness and generosity that makes the score soar."

Rebecca Franks, The Times

"Conducted by Garry Walker, the score is executed with aplomb."

Louise Lewis, British Theatre Guide

"The score is vividly and virtuosically played under Garry Walker’s impeccable direction."

Richard Morrison, The Times

Download full biography

Scottish-born Garry Walker is currently Chief Conductor of the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie, and Music Director of Opera North.

Previously he has held positions as Permanent Guest Conductor of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Principal Conductor of Paragon Ensemble, and Artistic Director of Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

In the UK Garry Walker has worked with all the BBC orchestras, Hallé, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham Symphony and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Chamber orchestras have included the Britten Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata. Royal Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Orchestras he has worked with outside of the UK include the Aalborg Symfoniorkester, Gothenburg Symphony, Dortmund Philharmoniker, Orchestra dell’Opera Roma, Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, and Orchestra della Toscana. Further afield, he has often conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia, as well as making his US debut the Utah Symphony.

An experienced opera conductor, Garry Walker has conducted Janacek The Cunning Little Vixen for Garsington Opera in 2014, returning in 2018 for the critically acclaimed world premiere of Sawer The Skating Rink. He has also conducted productions at the Edinburgh International Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, the Ruhr Triennale and Lyon Opera. For Opera North he has conducted Billy Budd, The Rite of Spring (with Phoenix Dance Theatre), Gianni Schicchi, Martinů The Greek Passion, and in the 21/22 season will conduct Bizet Carmen and Verdi Rigoletto.

His discography includes works by Havergal Brian and Matthew Taylor on Toccata Classics, Edward Harper on Delphian and Dvorak on Sony.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

MAHLER Resurrection Symphony

Orchestra of Opera North (October 2021)

The performance by the Orchestra of Opera North was by turn thrilling, terrifying and uplifting. Garry Walker, the Music Director of Opera North, seems to have inherited from his distinguished predecessor, Richard Farnes, the ability to marshal huge forces with minimum fuss, to express great emotional intensity while keeping a precise grasp of detail.

Rob Simpson, The Reviews Hub

Opera North music director Garry Walker at the helm of the massed forces, revealed his absolute mastery of the architecture of this great work.

Geoffrey Mogridge, Ilkley Gazette

Bizet's Carmen

Orchestra of Opera North (October 2021)

Bizet’s tuneful score is punchily played by the Opera North orchestra, conducted by Garry Walker.

Rebecca Franks, The Times ****

Garry Walker gets his music directorship off to a good start, whipping the orchestra through Bizet’s glorious tunes and getting real richness from the strings especially.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian ****

Under Garry Walker the orchestra has the necessary fire and delicacy.

Ron Simpson, The Reviews Hub

Garry Walker’s pacing and balance of this and every dramatic confrontation is impeccable. Walker and the Orchestra of Opera North makes Bizet’s glorious musical score sounds as if the ink had barely dried.

Geoffrey Mogridge, Ilkey Gazette

...in the pit the ever-excellent Opera North orchestra sounds splendid in Garry Walker’s first production as music director, relishing Bizet’s superb orchestration and giving exactly the right rhythmic lift to this great, immortal score.

Nicholas Kenyon, The Telegraph

Garry Walker’s orchestra covers all bases beautifully, with lovely detail, punchy vivacity, gorgeous delicacy in the Flower Song and elsewhere…

Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now ****

Triumph over Tragedy: Britten, Elgar, Shostakovich

Orchestra of Opera North (September 2021)

Walker guided the orchestra expertly through those mighty crescendos that suddenly grow from hushed strings and then die away just as suddenly; the orchestra showed off its solo power in the fun of the Scherzo; and the brass and percussion battered us into submission in a breath-taking final movement.

Rob Simpson, The Reviews Hub

… the music director and his seventy five players basked in the glow of a Huddersfield Town Hall audience clearly delighted by their return after an absence of eighteen months. Opera North’s 2021-22 Kirklees Orchestral Concert Season opened with Britten’s Suite of English Folk Tunes ‘a time there was’. Guy Johnston was the deeply expressive soloist in Elgar’s gloriously autumnal Cello Concerto and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony ended the concert on a triumphal note.

Geoffrey Mogridge, Ilkley Gazette

Martinu's The Greek Passion

Opera North (September 2019)

[…] in his first production since being named Opera North’s music director designate, Walker held the potentially stark and sprawling score together tautly, bringing out Martinů’s trademark radiance. The styles move from mystery play via folk opera to even grand opera, and encompass Greek Orthodox chant, speech song and plain dialogue; whether shaping the wedding chorus that sets words from the Song of Solomon or allowing the accordion solos their space, Walker relished the entire patchwork.

Opera Magazine

Conducting was Garry Walker, now the company’s Music Director Designate. It is a welcome appointment. He is an excellent musician who has yet to receive the recognition he deserves. His account of Martinů’s great work fully realised its intensity and dramatic power. The Greek Passion, both in production and performance, is one of Opera North’s finest achievements.

Anthony Arblaster, Opera Now

Garry Walker conducts with a dark intensity that brings out both the score’s violence and its extraordinary moments of ecstatic lyricism.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian

Walker, in his first production since being named Opera North's music director designate, holds the potentially stark and sprawling score together tautly, bringing out Martinů's trademark radiance.

John Allison, The Telegraph

The orchestra, under the music director designate Garry Walker, play with a suppleness and generosity that makes the score soar.

Rebecca Franks, The Times

Martinů's luminous, eclectic score is handsomely conducted by new Music Director Garry Walker.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

With the excellent Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North on superb form under the company’s principal conductor-designate, Garry Walker, a Scottish musician whose Billy Budd in Leeds a year or two back confirmed him as a talent for years to come, this Greek Passion transcended the obstacles of text and staging to provide a vivid, intense musical experience.

Mark Valencia, Musical America

This is another excellent performance under the baton of Garry Walker.

Dawn Smallwood, The Reviews Hub

Sawer's The Skating Rink

Garsington Opera (July 2018)

Garry Walker and the Garsington Opera Orchestra deliver it all with panache.

Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage

Conductor Garry Walker and the Garsington Opera Orchestra kept everything coherent, purposeful and slick

Charlotte Valori, Bachtrack (5*)

Praise to for the wonderfully vital and responsive Garsington Opera Orchestra under Garry Walker; translucent textures, rhythmic brio – especially in the jaunty dance sections. There is also great intensity when needed.

Alexander Campbell, Classical Source (5*)

[…]conducted deftly by Garry Walker and making the keenest impact in a surprisingly vivid acoustic.

Paul Driver, The Sunday Times

Conducted by Garry Walker, the score is executed with aplomb.

Louise Lewis, British Theatre Guide

Garry Walker’s conducting is first rate.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Sawer’s intriguing score, excellently conducted by Garry Walker.

Sam Smith, MusicOMH

The score is vividly and virtuosically played under Garry Walker’s impeccable direction.

Richard Morrison, The Times

As conducted by Garry Walker, Sawer’s score is a beguiling patchwork of colours and effects.

Michael Church, Independent

Under Garry Walker's expert guidance the orchestra drew a wide range of colours and textures from Sawer's score, giving as thrilling and committed performance as the singers on stage and making the piece really count.

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Garry Walker conducts the orchestra with panache.

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

Garry Walker conducts the Garsington Opera Orchestra in a taut and cohesive performance.

George Hall, The Stage

As the story builds, so does the soundworld, from the chilly spareness of strings alone to the full force of the Garsington Opera Orchestra [...] and conducted with pace and precision by Garry Walker.

Claudia Pritchard, CultureWhisper (5*)

These photos are available to be downloaded.
Right click on a desired image and select the "Save Link As" option.