Sir. John Eliot Gardiner Extends Leave of Absence; Will Return Later in the Year

By Francisco Salazar

The Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra and Sir John Eliot Gardiner have released a statement announcing the decision for the conductor to extend his time away from public music-making.

The choir and orchestra said, “We are pleased to announce that the forthcoming tour of Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists will be conducted by Peter Whelan. We are also delighted to announce the return of our Associate Conductor Dinis Sousa to conduct the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the Monteverdi Choir for the May 2024 Beethoven Symphonies in London and Paris.”

The statement added, “In an agreement between the board and management of the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, we can confirm that John Eliot has decided to extend his time away from public music-making, and it is our shared aim that he will be in a position to return to conduct the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras later in the year. It is a deserved tribute to John Eliot’s lifetime’s work that the Monteverdi Choir were last week awarded Best Choir at the Oper! Awards 2024.’’

Gardiner added “As announced by the board and management of the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras today, I am extending my time away from public music-making until later in the year in the wake of last August’s incident – something for which I have accepted full responsibility and profoundly regret. In the meantime, I am proud of the members of the three Monteverdi ensembles and management for bringing to fruition the concerts that were planned between August and now, and I wish to thank Peter Whelan and Dinis Sousa for taking over the forthcoming projects which mark the start of a year celebrating the Choir’s 60th birthday. I would like to thank the Monteverdi family for their strenuous efforts, and I am confident they will continue to deliver their projects at an exceptional standard over the next few months, bringing delight and solace to audiences here and abroad at a time when the world situation requires this more and more.”

The news comes months after Gardiner decided to take a leave of absence after he slapped and punched bass William Thomas during a performance of “Les Troyens” at the Berlioz Festival in teh summer of 2023. The incident caused an international scandal that forced Gardiner to withdraw from the “Les Troyens” tour and issue an apology.