Conductor Garry Walker is set to take up the position of music director in 2020, while Antony Hermus will become principal guest conductor later this year, Opera North has confirmed.
Walker is currently chief conductor of the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie in Koblenz, Germany; a post he has held since 2017. He will take up the position of music director with Opera North from the 2020-21 season in August 2020, joining the artistic management alongside General Director Richard Mantle and Director of Planning Christine Jane Chibnall.
Once in place, Walker will conduct two opera productions and several symphonic concerts during each season. Recent work with Opera North includes a powerful production of Britten’s Billy Budd (1951) and the double bill Gianni Schicchi (Puccini, 1918) and The Rite of Spring, a ballet and orchestral concert piece by Stravinsky. He is due to open Opera North’s upcoming season in September 2019 with a new production of Martinů’s The Greek Passion (1961).
Walker commented: “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 20-year relationship with, and its warmth, inclusivity and genuine company ethos – something commented on by so many visiting artists – is one of the key characteristics which has drawn me to Opera North over the years.”
Dutch conductor Antony Hermus made his Opera North debut conducting Tosca (Puccini, 1900) in 2018. He is currently principal guest of the North Netherlands Orchestra, a position he will retain. He takes up his new role at Opera North with a production of The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart, 1786) in the 2019-20 season.
“From my very first encounter with Opera North I felt such enormous energy, drive and commitment for our wonderful artform,” he said. “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!”
Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, added: “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.
“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.”
Garry Walker (top) will take up the role of music director in August 2020, while Antony Hermus (bottom) becomes principal guest conductor in the 2019-20 season.