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Opera North announces new musical leadership

We are delighted to announce two significant appointments to our artistic and musical leadership with immediate effect, marking an exciting renewal in Opera North’s life and future.

Garry Walker becomes Music Director designate and will take up his post from the 2020/21 season in August 2020. As Music Director, Garry will head the musical leadership of Opera North and joins the artistic management alongside General Director, Richard Mantle, and Director of Planning, Christine Jane Chibnall.

Garry Walker, Opera North's Music Director designate © Jack Liebeck

Garry is currently Chief Conductor of the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie in Koblenz where he will retain some responsibilities until the 2021/2022 season and therefore there will be a period of transition between the two organisations. Once he is in post, he will conduct two opera productions and several symphonic concerts during each season and will become embedded in the life of the company at all levels and across the diversity of the Company’s work.

Garry’s recent work for Opera North has included an impressive and powerful Billy Budd and the double bill Gianni Schicchi & The Rite of Spring. He is due to open Opera North’s upcoming mainstage season in September 2019, with a new production of Martinů’s The Greek Passion.

As Principal Guest Conductor, Antony Hermus, who who made a revelatory debut conducting Opera North’s production of Tosca in 2018, will build on this strong relationship, contributing to the artistic vision of the company and conducting one opera production each season as well as symphonic concerts, whilst retaining his current position as Principal Guest of the North Netherlands Orchestra and continuing his burgeoning international career. Antony is scheduled to conduct The Marriage of Figaro in the 2019/20 season.

Antony Hermus, Opera North's Principal Guest Conductor

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Garry Walker to Opera North as Music Director, following a two year recruitment process for this key artistic leadership role. He will be a great colleague and will bring clear, resilient and mindful leadership, driving and inspiring high musical standards as well as being fully alive to our ethos and aspirations, as we move forward into a new chapter in the life of the Company.

“The addition to the team of Antony Hermus as Principal Guest Conductor is also an exciting prospect and creates a new structure which builds on the established musical and artistic strengths of Opera North. His positivity and dramatic flair will be an undoubted asset to the Company and we look forward to working more closely with him over the coming seasons.

“We have already had the privilege of working with these two musicians over recent years, who each bring valuable yet complementary strengths and experience to the Company. These appointments to our core team will further enhance our commitment to innovation and excellence into the future.”

Garry Walker, Music Director designate, Opera North said:

“I’m hugely honoured to become Music Director of Opera North, and excited to maintain and advance the already enormously high artistic standards achieved. It is an organisation I have a twenty-year relationship with, and its warmth, inclusivity and genuine company ethos – something commented upon by so many visiting artists – is one of the key characteristics which has drawn me to Opera North over the years.

“Opera is the ultimate team game, with so many individuals in so many differing disciplines coming together to contribute to the overall success of performances. I look forward to putting the music and the storytelling at the centre of what we do, and I hope to bring my energy and love for the dramatic power of opera to our audiences, both on and off the podium.”

Antony Hermus, Principal Guest Conductor, Opera North, said:

“From my very first encounter with Opera North I felt such enormous energy, drive and commitment for our wonderful artform. As Richard Wagner said: “Music is the language of passion”, and I look forward to sharing this common passion for music and opera with all our fantastic singers, musicians and indeed the whole Company, working together to inspire our audiences to the maximum!”

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