David Atherton


David Atherton co-founded the London Sinfonietta in 1967 and, as its Music Director, gave the first performance of many important contemporary works.  He was also Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (1989-2000), San Diego Symphony Orchestra (1980-1987) and the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego (1989-2013). In addition, he has held titled positions with the BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
David Atherton first appeared at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden when he was only 24, going on to conduct more than 200 performances there. He has also conducted regularly at the MET, Canadian Opera and English National Opera.
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Concert 10 January 2014

Hong Kong Philharmonic

"The criticisms of Tchaikovsky's symphonic writing levelled during his day (such as surface vulgarity and repetitious padding) are still aired today, but Atherton and the orchestra showed how to turn those weaknesses into a superb performance." South China Morning Post 13 January 2014

BBC Proms 12 August 2013

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

"The evening began with another slice of Holst in his orientalist vein, the symphonic poem Indra. It’s a charming piece, played here with full-blooded affection by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under David Atherton."
The Telegraph 13 August 2013
[For Khan, Sitar Concerto No.1]
"Atherton set an ideal pace throughout this 47-minute performance from which BBCNOW did not flag, and so maintained a buoyant character which was moulded into something more romantic and sensuous in the second movement, and instilled with mounting urgency at the end of the third."
The Classical Source 13 August 2013
"David Atherton led a beautifully turned performance of the piece [Vaughan-Williams, Symphony No.2], full of precisely shaded colour and with a quite extraordinary control of the work's complex emotional trajectory, which takes in both the city's noisy charm as well as the composer's rising horror at the hidden "wilderness of slums"..." Guardian 13 August 2013
[Vaughan-Williams, Symphony No.2]
"Atherton and his orchestra found a wonderful hushed intensity at the opening, exploding into glaring life in the main Allegro. This movement, with its twists and turns of the picturesque, the glamorous and the tragic, was capped brilliantly by a bubbling coda." Bachtrack 14 August 2013

Mainly Mozart Festival

Balboa Theatre

"Atherton made it all sound absolutely coherent and yet never predictable; he approached it with complete seriousness but also acknowledged Weber’s refusal to take himself as seriously as Beethoven." U-T San Diego 13 June 2013

BRITTEN Spring Symphony

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

"conductor David Atherton created a sense of the grand Mahlerian span while bringing out details that were distinctively Britten."
The Guardian, 28 January 2013


Concert: May 2012

London Sinfonietta

"Atherton brought out the spiky, visceral quality of those gestures in the performance of In Broken Images, achieving the kind of raw beauty that is present in so much of Birtwistle’s music but which ultimately defies analysis." This is London, 25 May 2012


Concert: June 2011

Mainly Mozart Festival, San Diego

"David Atherton treated it (Mozart Symphony No 16) with particular incisiveness and verve. In the Schubert he took charge, shaping an interpretation that confounded the classical preconceptions generally attached to this work". Union Tribune San Diego, 14 June 2011

Concert: September 2010

Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra

"...five minutes to take your breath away with an amazing reading full of passion yet delicate, of the extraordinary overture by Mozart." O Estado de São Paulo, 27 September 2010


Concert: August 2010

BBC Proms/London Sinfonietta

"There was a superb account of Threni, Stravinsky's first wholly 12-note work. David Atherton's no-nonsense conducting was typically pungent, the soloists were outstanding, and the BBC Singers and London Sinfonietta were their usual exemplary selves." The Guardion, 5 August 2010


Concert: June 2010

Mainly Mozart Fesitval, San Diego

"Under Atherton’s assured direction and the festival orchestra’s immaculate playing, Mozart’s “G Minor Symphony, No. 40,” worked its wonted magic."

SanDiego.com, 8 June 2010


The Planets

BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cardiff

"Atherton ripped into The Planets with suitably martial force. In a carefully paced performance, what was striking was the contrast between the gutsy clamour of Holst's orchestration at full throttle – the brass section in its element – and the celestial mystique of its hushed moments." The Guardian, 18 January 2010