SINCE winning First Prize in the 1999 Leeds Conductor’s Competition, Scottish maestro Garry Walker has forged a significant international career in the opera house and concert hall.

Garry has worked with all the BBC Orchestras; the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta, The Hallé, Royal Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony, Utah Symphony and Melbourne Symphony.

Previous opera engagements include Britten’s the Turn of the Screw and Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart at English National Opera; Janecek’s the Cunning Little Vixen for Garsington Opera and for Opera North: Britten’s Billy Budd and Penderecki’s Greek Passion.

The 47 year-old conductor and former cellist will lead at least two operas in Leeds and on tour each season. Last Thursday evening, 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.

On 2nd October Garry will open a run of twenty performances of Bizet’s Carmen at Leeds Grand Theatre and on tour. On Sunday 31st October the Opera North Chorus and Orchestra will be joined in Leeds Town Hall by the combined Leeds Festival and Philharmonic Choruses for what promises to be an emotional occasion. Garry conducts the massed forces in Gustav Mahler’s stupendous ‘Resurrection’ Symphony No 2 in C minor. This will be the final Leeds Town Hall concert before shutdown for a major refurbishment, probably until summer 2023. We await news on alternative arrangements for the orchestral concerts.

Geoffrey Mogridge