Sir John Eliot Gardiner is an English conductor who founded the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. He has made over 250 albums with these ensembles.
Born on 20 April 1943 in Devon, he first took up the baton at the age of 15 and whilst studying at King’s College, Cambridge, he toured the Middle East conducting the Oxford and Cambridge Singers.
During his time at Cambridge he founded the Monteverdi Choir in 1964, and made his conducting debut with them at the Wigmore Hall in 1966.
To complement the Monteverdi Choir he formed the Monteverdi Orchestra in 1968 who played on modern instruments, but when they made the switch to period instruments in 1977, they became known as the English Baroque Soloists.
He made his debut in the opera house in 1969 with a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the English National Opera.
Gardiner’s American debut came in 1979 when he conducted the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and then went on to become the lead conductor of Canada’s CBC Vancouver Orchestra.
Post Vancouver, he went on to become the Music Director of the Opera National de Lyon, and during his time there founded an entirely new orchestra specifically to perform music of the 19th century; the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique.
Gardiner has won multiple awards throughout his career and these include an honorary doctorate from the University of Lyon, fellowships at King’s College and the Royal Academy of Music, numerous Grammys, and a CBE.
Gardiner embarked on a Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000. Over a period of 52 weeks he performed all of Bach’s sacred cantatas in churches around Europe and the United States.