Alexander Walker

conductor, composer
biography

Alexander Walker's career has taken him all over the world. He is a regular guest conductor with the legendary Russian State Symphony Orchestra whom he has conducted in concerts at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall, and International Performing Arts Centre.  Appearances during the last couple of seasons have included concerts with Prague Philharmonia in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum the Belgrade Philharmonic, Belgrade Strings (broadcasting on National Television with them), the Georges Enescu Philharmonic, Bucharest, North Hungarian Symphony Orchestra, Wrocław State Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra New Russia (Music Director: Yuri Bashmet) and the Russian Philharmonic.  In November he made a highly successful debut with the English Chamber Orchestra at London's Cadogan Hall. Also in the UK, he has conducted the City of London Sinfonia and the BBC Philharmonic (with a concert broadcast on Radio 3) and has been developing a relationship with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he has recorded and given concerts, and recently conducted the prestigious Elgar Birthday concert in Malvern. His recording of the complete violin repertoire of Ignatz Waghalter featuring the virtuoso violinist Irmina Trynkos with the orchestra on Naxos has received critical praise and was awarded a Supersonic Award by Pizzicato Magazine and was nominated for an International Classical Music Award.  In May his recording of Havergal Brian's Symphonies nos 22-24 with Symphony Orchestra New Russia was released on the same label in May and went straight to no. 5 in the Specialist Classical Chart and was nominated Critics' Choice in Gramophone Magazine.

Highlights of the last couple of seasons have included a performance of Britten's War Requiem to mark the 70years since the invasion of Poland in Lublin, Poland and the first ever production in Turkey of an Opera by Benjamin Britten, conducting The Turn of the Screw for the Istanbul State Opera.  In 2011, he conducted the first production of Julian Grant's new opera Prophet and Loss for Oundle International Festival.

After completing a music degree at Bristol University and post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Alexander Walker studied with Ilya Musin at St. Petersburg Conservatoire and has since performed throughout the former Soviet Union where many of his concerts have been broadcast on National television and radio.  He was Principal Guest Conductor of the Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra from 1999-2004.  He is a regular guest conductor with the Mikkeli and Lappeenranta City Orchestras in Finland, and of the Esbjerg Ensemble and the Vestyjsk Sinfonieorkester in Denmark and of many orchestras throughout Poland, the Balkans, Turkey and Romania. In the UK, his engagements have included concerts with the New Queens Hall Orchestra and the Russian Orchestra of London.

He works regularly at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and has toured with the Royal Ballet to the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres in Russia, throughout the USA including to the Metropolitan Opera and Kennedy Center, as well as to Singapore, Korea, Japan and Turkey.  He has conducted performances of The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and other work for the Royal Ballet has included Giselle, Manon, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.  He has also worked for the Finnish National Opera, conducting Kenneth Greve's new production of Swan Lake, Cinderella for Scottish Ballet, Romeo and Juliet for Northern Ballet Theatre, a gala performance with Anastasia Volochkova at Sadler's Wells and this season conducted a production of The Nutcracker for the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo.

His operatic repertoire includes the major operas of Verdi, Puccini and Mozart and Tchaikovsky as well as Tobias and the Angel, Carmen, Rusalka, Tristan und Isolde, Verbum Nobile (Moniuszko), A Life for the Tsar, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Gli Equivoci nel sembiante, Le Postillon de Lonjumeau (Adam) and Paradise Moscow.  Companies he has worked for have included Opera North, Grange Park Opera, English Touring Opera, Oundle International Festival, Bampton Classical Opera, Chelsea Opera Group, European Chamber Opera, Opera de Baugé, London City Opera and the Ukrainian National Opera in Odessa.

Proactive in presenting audiences with great music unfamiliar to them, he has done a great deal to promote British music abroad. He has been responsible for organising festivals featuring the music of Nielson in Russia, Karlowicz in Finland and is particularly highly regarded for his interpretations of Middle and East European classical and 19th and 20th century repertoire at home.  An enthusiast for contemporary music, he has given first performances of music by Andrei Petrov, Aki-Yli Salomaki, Vladislav Uspenski, and many others.  He has done a great deal to promote British Music abroad.

He is Music Director of the Northampton Symphony Orchestra and conductor of Surrey Youth Orchestra.

 


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Reviews
Brian: Symphonies / Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos
 Fanfare Magazine,
"Well, after hearing this remarkable disc by Walker and the New Russian State Symphony, I've revised my opinion. It wasn't the message that was flawed in those earlier recordings but the messengers. Possibly, the musicians (and conductors) of that earlier time weren't used to Brian's peculiar mode of expression and aesthetic. Walker simply tears into these scores with the conviction of a True Disciple. Could some of the emotional output also be coming from the Russian musicians? Yes, of course, but again, the conductor sets the tone and Walker knows what he is about here. This is, quite simply, a remarkable disc. Highly recommended."
(Lynn René Bayley)
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Brian: Symphonies / Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos
 Classics Today,
"The performances here are very good. The New Russian State Symphony Orchestra sounds remarkably confident in Brian's idiosyncratic sound world. The brass play very well, and the ensemble projects what have to be some very ungrateful string parts with astonishing conviction. Much of the credit must belong to conductor Alexander Walker, who keeps the music moving smartly along, and relishes the opportunities it offers for lyrical expression as well as instrumental color. Certainly this is one of the best issues in Naxos' ongoing Brian cycle, especially as the sonics are also very tactile and vivid. Fans of the composer will rejoice."
(David Hurwitz)
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Brian: Symphonies / Symphony Orchestra New Russia / Naxos
 The Times, London
"Turbulent, untidy, unclassifiable yet gripping, Brian's 32 symphonies, mostly written when he was over 70, are still rare beasts on record or in the concert hall. Three cheers, then, to (of all people) the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra under Alexander Walker for supplying feisty performances of the English maverick's Symphonies 22-24 - a dark, dissonant triptych from the mid-1960s. For light relief there's also Brian's English Suite No 1, composed 50 years earlier and full of whimsical quotations."
(Richard Morrison)
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The Nutcracker / Norwegian National Opera
 Verdens Gang, Oslo
"The conductor Alexander Walker demonstrated complete command over both stage and orchestra"
(Fredik Rutter)
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English Chamber Orchestra / Cadogan Hall
 Planet Hugill,
"A light and fleet account of the opening movement, demonstrated the orchestra's skill with Mendelssohn's transparent orchestral textures, bringing a vein of melancholy into the second movement whilst maintaining a delightful clarity. This second movement was clearly no funeral procession, but something far more subtle. Walker and his players brought out the echoes of Mendelssohn's Midsummer Nights Dream in the third movement, before launching into a tarantella which impressed with its precision and control."
(Robert Hugill)
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Ignatz Waghalter: Violin Works / Irmina Trynkos / RPO / Naxos
 Classical Lost and Found,
"...The outstanding support she (Irmina Trynkos) receives from the Royal Philharmonic orchestra under conductor Alexander Walker makes the case for the concerto and rhapsody even stronger."
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Julian Grant: Prophet and Loss / Oundle International Festival
 Opera, London
"... Alexander Walker's conducting captured the drama inherent in Grant's score while also emphasising its lyricism."
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Le Postillon du Lonjumeau / Opera de Bauge
 Forumopera, Paris
".. The orchestra, led with spirit by the young Alexander Walker, ensured the ensemble tremendous pacing.  He led a cast that clearly gripped the public, who were enthusiastic and clearly excited."
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The Cunning Little Vixen / Oundle International Festival
 Opera, London
"Walker's players enchanted with a cavalcade of controlled, astute brass, refined woodwind and alluring low strings, all beautifully articulated."
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A Life for the Tsar / Chelsea Opera Group / Queen Elizabeth Hall
 Music and Vision, London
"... under Alexander Walker's dynamic leadership both chorus and orchestra gave a tremendous performance of this neglected opera."
(Robert Hugill)
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Russian Chamber Orchestra of London / Festival, St. Petersburg Revelations
 Musical Opinion, London
"... very well projected, a compelling performance from this talented conductor."
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Russian Chamber Orchestra of London / Festival, St. Petersburg Revelations
 Music and Vision,
"Alexander Walker welded the ensemble with tremendous energy and immediacy...Walker has a strong affinity for the Russian style, which came across in the intensity and warmth of this fully engaging performance.

The Artistic Director [St. Petersburg Revelations] was the young British conductor Alexander Walker, who, as Principal Guest Conductor of the Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra of Russia, is also an expert in the performance of Russian music. The festival offered a fascinating and enriching glimpse into music from St. Petersburg, to mark this year's Tercentenary celebrations, and was held in association with the St. Petersburg authority itself.I attended the festival's thrilling final concert at the Conway Hall, Holburn on 15th September, given by the Russian Chamber Orchestra of London, a group formed in 1998, specialising in Russian music whose recent appearances included a premiere by Galina Ustvolskaya and Mukhmedov's Russian Ballet at the Coliseum. Here they were conducted stylishly by Alexander Walker in a stimulating programme that featured premieres by Vladimir Uspensky (born 1937), Andrei Petrov (born 1930) and Yuri Falik (born 1936), leading St. Petersburg composers of the senior generation, framed by two Russian "classics": Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.A Russian flavour was immediately set with Prokofiev's Vision Fugitives, impressionistic piano pieces in a most effective string orchestra version by Rudolf Barshai. A daring work to begin with, Alexander Walker soon elicited a cohesive ensemble to convey the widely varied moods of these epigrammatic miniatures: from the elusive poetic to the boisterous, from piquant neo-classicism to virulently aggressive, the serene and visionary.The Russian Chamber Orchestra of London's vibrant sonority was displayed to great effect in the Fanfare and Requiem by Yuri Falik, a composer with a distinctive, often ravishing approach to new tonality. Especially effective was the idiomatic use of the medium, for ins
"
(Malcolm Miller)
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Verbum Nobile / Polish Cultural Institute, London
 Seen and Heard, London
"Alexander Walker accompanied his singers expertly."
(Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard)
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Voronezh State Symphony Orchestra
 Voronezh Courier, Voronezh
"... a subtle musician possessing a feeling for style, concise conducting gestures and unusually expressive movements." Voronezh Courier "The 35th Symphony written by the mature Mozart was dedicated to his friend Zigmund Haffner on the occasion of being awarded his title. The combination of joie de vivre, profundity and the heart-felt qualities of Mozart's music, underpinned by a refined approach to structure were deftly conveyed under the leadership of Maestro Walker.It was the first performance in Voronezh of Soirees Musicales, by Benjamin Britten. These charming miniatures, exploring with originality, the colours of the orchestra were performed with panache and with understanding of the style of the music.The second concert in Voronezh was entitled "Pushkin in Music". Maestro Walker proved himself to be a sympathetic accompanist in this concert. The complex accompaniment to Lauri's Songa from Dargomidjsky's Opera "The Stone Guest" (soloist of the Philharmonic, Galina Raznichenko) was performed splendidly.A storm of applause greeted the performance of "The Three Wonders" from "The Fairy Tale of the Czar Sultan", where the orchestra subtly conveyed the contrasts between the fantastical images.In Alexander Walker, we saw a subtle musician, possessing a feeling of style, concise conducting gestures and unususally expressive movements. It will be marvellous if this acquaintance continues."
(Elena Semenova)
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 Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg,
"He is comfortable in a wide range of styles..He has a good rapport with the musicians of the orchestra, and is able to produce the results he requires from them. He has a deep understanding of music, and his conducting is energetic and committed."
(Leonid Korchmar, Head of Opera)
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 St. Petersburg State Conservatory,
"It is without doubt that this young conductor will show himself to be a superlative director of the orchestra possessing outstanding musical and conducting qualities."
(Ilya Musin, Professor of Orchestral and Operatic Conducting)
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 Classics Today,
"The performances here are very good. The New Russian State Symphony Orchestra sounds remarkably confident in Brian's idiosyncratic sound world. The brass play very well, and the ensemble projects what have to be some very ungrateful string parts with astonishing conviction. Much of the credit must belong to conductor Alexander Walker, who keeps the music moving smartly along, and relishes the opportunities it offers for lyrical expression as well as instrumental color. Certainly this is one of the best issues in Naxos' ongoing Brian cycle, especially as the sonics are also very tactile and vivid. Fans of the composer will rejoice."
(David Hurwitz)
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