The English conductor, Edward Gardner, sang as a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral. As a youth, he played piano, clarinet and organ. He attended the King's School, Gloucester and Eton College. At the University of Cambridge, he continued as a music student, and was a choral scholar in King's College Choir. He had begun choral conducting at Eton, and continued conducting at Cambridge. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included Colin Metters. He graduated from the RAM in 2000.
From 1997 until 2002, Edward Gardner was Musical Director of Wokingham Choral Society, a post previously held by Graeme Jenkins, Paul Daniel, and Stephen Layton. In 1999, whilst still a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Gardner became a repetiteur at the Salzburg Festival at the invitation of Michael Gielen, when another repetiteur had become ill. Gardner subsequently served as an assistant conductor to Mark Elder at the Hallé Orchestra for 3 years. In 2003, he was named music director of Glyndebourne on Tour and formally took up the post in 2004. He relinquished this post in 2007. In 2005, he was a winner of the Young Artist prize of the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS).
Recognised as one of the most talented conductors of his generation, Edward Gardner was appointed Music Director of English National Opera (ENO) in March 2006. He formally took up the post in May 2007, with an initial contract of 3 years, with a critically acclaimed new production of Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice. Under his direction, the ENO has presented a series of stellar productions, including Damnation of Faust, Boris Godunov, Der Rosenkavalier, Punch and Judy, Peter Grimes and a double bill of The Rite of Spring and Bluebeard’s Castle. This season productions include Julietta, Don Giovanni, Wozzeck and Death in Venice. Although there have not been any formal press announcements of Gardner extending his ENO contract, he has publicly stated that he is continuing to plan work with ENO until at least 2015.
Equally successful as an opera conductor outside ENO, Edward Gardner received immediate re-invitations for 2012-2013 and beyond at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and La Scala, Milan after his début appearances of Carmen and B. Britten's Death in Venice. These include Don Giovanni at the Met in Autumn 2012 and B. Britten's War Requiem at La Scala the following season. Prior to his appointment at ENO Edward was a regular at Paris Opera and in 2008 he returned to Glyndebourne Festival Opera with a production of B. Britten’s Turn of the Screw.
In September 2010, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Gardner as its next Principal Guest Conductor, effective September 2011, with an initial contract of 3 years, for 3-4 weeks of concerts per season. Engagements with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra during the 2011-2012 season have included Dream of Gerontius at the Royal Festival Hall and the UK premiere of Weltehos by Jonathan Harvey to mark the opening of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Highlights of 2012-2013 include a focus on B. Britten with Spring Symphony in Birmingham and War Requiem in St Paul's Cathedral for the City of London Festival.
Outside of the UK, in February 2013, Edward Gardner was simultaneously named the next Principal Guest Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, effective August 2013, and the orchestra's next Principal Conductor effective with the 2015-2016 season. His initial contract as principal conductor is for 3 years. Many exciting projects planned including recordings with Chandos.
Edward Gardner has also enjoyed a flourishing relationship with the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2005 and in September 2011 conducted them at the Last Night of the Proms which was televised live to audiences worldwide. In 2012 Edward made two Prom appearances, conducting the First Night of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as a stunning concert performance of Peter Grimes with ENO. His other ongoing relationships in the UK include the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He also works regularly with young musicians including the CBSO Youth Orchestra and Barbican Youth Orchestra as well as the Trinity College of Music, Royal Academy and Royal College of Music. In 2002 he founded the Halle Youth Orchestra.
Internationally, the 2012-2013 season and beyond will see Edward Gardner conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic and Melbourne Symphony. During recent seasons Edward has also worked with the NHK Symphony, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
An exclusive recording artist for Chandos, Edward Gardner has most recently released critically acclaimed discs of Witold Lutosławski, B. Britten and Berio vocal and orchestral works. He has also made a number of recordings for EMI Records; Alison Balsom/Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Kate Royal/Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and Kate Royal/English National Opera Orchestra.
In recognition of his talent and commitment, Edward Gardner received the Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2008 for Best Conductor of the Year and in 2009, the Olivier award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. In June 2012 Edward was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his Services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
From 2009 to early 2011 Edward Gardner dated English trumpeter Alison Balsom; in early 2010 they had a baby boy named Charlie.