The BBC Philharmonic has announced that Ben Gernon is to be its principal guest conductor. He will begin his new role in the autumn.
Although still only 27, Gernon, who is one of the UK’s most highly rated young conductors, has already built up a successful working relationship with the Manchester-based orchestra over a number of seasons. As well as conducting the BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgewater Hall and on tour on a number of occasions, he has also worked with it on projects such as The Red Brick Sessions, an innovative series at Salford’s Peel Hall.
The winner of prestigious Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductor’s Award in 2013, Gernon enjoys a worldwide career, not least in the US where he is a former Dudamel Fellow with the LA Philharmonic. As a conductor, he also has something of a rarity value in that he began life as a tuba player, studying the instrument at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before opting to take up the baton.
When, in September 2013, BBC Music Magazine interviewed Gernon for our Rising Star series, he told us how it was the late Sir Colin Davis who above all inspired him to conduct. ‘He was the most special man I’d ever met,’ said Gernon about the great British conductor. ‘I used to go round to his house and we’d spend a couple of hours every week talking about scores. He’d suggest things, I’d conduct thin air, he’d tell me off, we’d try something else – and we’d have cake and tea.’
Gernon joins a roster of BBC Philharmonic conductors that includes Spain's Juanjo Mena (chief conductor) and the Finn John Storgårds (chief guest conductor).