Graham Jackson (British conductor)

Graham Jackson (15 February 1967 – 23 July 2012) was a British conductor.

Born in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, Jackson learned the clarinet, piano and bassoon as a youth, and served as first bassoon in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1985 to 1988 as organ scholar, receiving a double first in music and mathematics. Jackson then gained a scholarship to study conducting for three years at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Having concluded his studies, in 1992 he joined Welsh National Opera as chorus master, repetiteur and conductor. He soon earned a reputation for his prodigious keyboard skills and his ability to conduct whole scores from memory, a habit that would stay with him for the rest of his life.

From 2000 to 2003, Jackson was "Kapellmeister" (principal conductor) at the Theater Bremen, where at a week's notice he took over the new production of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk to critical acclaim. He became "Generalmusikdirektor" (Director of Music) of the Theater Krefeld and Mönchengladbach in 2003. Despite being a non-smoker, he was diagnosed in 2009 with stage 4 lung cancer. He concluded his tenure in this post in early July 2012, just over a fortnight before his death. His gave his final series of concerts starting on 5th July 2012, with a mesmerising performance of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

His work in contemporary music included conducting premieres of works by François Sarhan, Charlotte Seither, Stefan Heucke and Sidney Corbett. He felt that his finest achievement was the première of Heuke's work Das Frauenorchester von Auschwitz, an opera that tells how female prisoners at the concentration camp made music together under the direction of Alma Rosé, Mahler's niece. At the time it provoked much discussion in German musical circles. He was popular with both critics and audiences alike, and was voted Conductor of the Year by critics in North Rhine Westphalia for 2010-11.

Jackson was married for 19 years to the artist and flautist Adrienne Jackson. The couple have four children, Oliver, Helena, Daniel and Tess. He died at home in Cambridge on 23 July 2012. His widow and children survive him.

Recordings (as conductor)

  • Anthems for the Chapel Royal of Henry Purcell. - Hamburg: BMG Ariola, (1994)
  • Noah (soundtrack) Corbett, Sidney. - Berlin: Detlef Kessler, P 2004
  • Essay on Shadow and Truth (soundtrack) Seither, Charlotte. Zeitklang Edition (2011)