Martin West

Martin West is acknowledged as one of the foremost conductors of ballet, garnering critical acclaim throughout the world. Born in Bolton, England, he studied math at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge University, before studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music and London’s Royal Academy of Music.

In fall 1997, West made his debut with English National Ballet and was immediately appointed resident conductor. There, he conducted almost half of the company’s performances throughout England and abroad. From 2004-2007 he held the position of principal conductor before relinquishing the post to allow him the flexibility to guest with other companies. West has worked with many of the top companies in North America such as New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, and The National Ballet of Canada as well as the The Royal Ballet in England.

West has worked with the Hallé Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. He made his U.S. symphonic conducting debut with Silicon Valley Symphony, resulting in an immediate re-invitation. From 1998 to July 2005, West was the music director of the Cambridge Philharmonic Society. In addition, he had a long association with Pimlico Opera, including conducting a ground-breaking performance of West Side Story inside a prison with the inmates as part of the cast.

In fall 2005, West joined San Francisco Ballet, having been a frequent guest since his debut two years earlier. In his ten years as music director he has been credited with raising the standard and profile of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra to new levels and has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings with them, including the complete scores of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, excerpts from Delibes’ Coppélia and Sylvia, and a CD of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky cello music. He and the Orchestra have also made many world premiere recordings, including music by composers such as Bizet, Moszkowski, Shinji Eshima, Kip Winger, and Maury Yeston whose full-length ballet Tom Sawyer was recorded in 2013. In addition, he conducted on the award-winning DVD of John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid as well as Helgi Tomasson’s productions of Nutcracker for PBS and Romeo & Juliet for Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance.

Martin West Reviews:

“Under current music director Martin West, the orchestra revels in the immediacy of the music without ever losing sight of the overall narrative.…” — Ken Smith, Gramophone Magazine

“West does hold his own in the massive final apotheosis, aided by the always-formidable Reference Recordings bass drum. West is uniformly excellent in Coppélia…there is plenty of beautiful music-making here…” — Arthur Lintgen Fanfare Magazine

“Martin West and his San Francisco Ballet Orchestra do a bang-up job… West’s tempos [are] broader in some key movements, and hence more conducive to listening without visuals.” —Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice

“Martin West continues to show his conductorial prowess, and proves that his orchestra is a first-rate ensemble, with this handsome all-Bizet disc.…” —Chris Hathaway, Houston Public Radio – Classical

“[West] brings the light, delicate touch of the ballet conductor with him, always exercising a spring in his step, a lilt to the beat, a bounce to the melody. …” — John J. Puccio, Classical Candor

“Led by conductor Martin West, the San Franciscans brings out its many colorful gestures, such as the alto saxophone solo in the Act III barcarolle (Delibes was one of the first composers to write for the alto sax)…There is no profundity here, only the enchanting melodies and rhythms of the dance…” —WQXR