Philharmonia Orchestra appoints
Sir John Eliot Gardiner as Principal Guest Conductor Emeritus
in the week of his 80th birthday

The Philharmonia Orchestra is delighted to announce that it is appointing Sir John Eliot Gardiner as Principal Guest Conductor Emeritus.

Following a gap of 23 years, the Orchestra was thrilled to reignite its relationship with Sir John Eliot Gardiner during the Covid lockdowns, with a streamed performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations. A recent concert at the Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Sir John Eliot, had critics and audiences celebrating the partnership and exceptional rapport between the conductor and Orchestra. These recent successes moved the musicians of the Philharmonia to create a more formal relationship by bestowing the unprecedented title of Principal Guest Conductor Emeritus on Sir John Eliot, in the week of his 80th birthday.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is an international leader in today’s musical life. Regarded as one of the world’s most respected and boundary redefining musicians, he is consistently at the forefront of vivid and enlightened interpretation, working regularly with the world’s foremost orchestras. Gardiner’s work as Artistic Director of his Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra, English Baroque Soloists and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique has marked him out as a pioneer of historically informed performance. He regularly guests conducts leading orchestras such as the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker. His many hundreds of recordings lay testimony to the extraordinary range and breadth of his artistry.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner said: ’I’m greatly honoured to accept this title which the Philharmonia have conferred on me. Re-establishing contact with this magnificent Orchestra feels like a wonderful homecoming. It’s been a delight to re-encounter the translucent warmth of the legendary Philharmonia string sound, to rediscover and admire the individual character and musicality of their woodwind principals and the burnished sonority of their brass section. I am excited by this opportunity to renew and deepen my fruitful association with this flexible and open-minded body of musicians, and the chance it gives to cement the links with them by developing fresh ways to explore both familiar and unchartered areas of the symphonic repertoire.’

Sir John Eliot will begin his tenure with one concert and an international tour in the 23/24 season; the following three seasons will then see the relationship deepen, with three RFH programmes per season and further tours, allowing the development of his own programmatic ideas, including the introduction of new repertoire.

Philharmonia Chief Executive, Thorben Dittes said: ’I’m thrilled that Sir John Eliot Gardiner will be part of the Philharmonia family. With this new relationship the Orchestra will be in the unique position to draw on Sir John Eliot’s distinguished musical insight and unrivalled curiosity to shape new distinctive programming strands which will build on our history of excellence and innovation.’

Kira Doherty, President and Second Horn said: ‘It will be a huge pleasure and honour to welcome Sir John Eliot Gardiner back to the Philharmonia in the new role of Principal Guest Conductor Emeritus. Not only is Gardiner one of the most eminent and celebrated conductors of his time, he is also a passionate and vocal advocate for the arts. A man of towering talent and unshakable musical conviction, we look forward immensely to working together and building an artistic vision that will see the Orchestra pushed to new musical heights.’

The announcement comes ahead of the 23/24 season programme launch on 24 April, which will include a further exciting conducting appointment, and will illustrate further how the Orchestra plans to build on its illustrious history of excellence coupled with innovation and musical curiosity in the years ahead.