Michael Palmer, Laureate Conductor

BFM Co-founder Michael Palmer stepped down as artistic director and conductor of the Festival at the end of the 2022 season,  becoming its Conductor Laureate. Under his leadership, the Festival became internationally recognized, and live recordings from its annual concerts have been heard across the United States on National Public Radio, featuring some of the world’s finest orchestral musicians and major guest artists.

Palmer’s professional career began at age 21, when he was invited by Robert Shaw to become assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where he was soon promoted to associate conductor.

After 10 years in Atlanta with ASO, Palmer accepted the post of music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in 1977. While at Wichita he also served as guest conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1978 – 1981), and was co-principal guest conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra (1979-1982).

From 1989 to 1997, Michael Palmer assumed the post of music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Carnegie Hall invited Palmer and the NHSO to perform in New York City in 1994 as part of their esteemed Visiting Orchestras Series.

In 1991 Palmer founded the American Sinfonietta, which toured Europe for ten years and served as the resident orchestra for the Bellingham Festival of Music. Under his leadership the ensemble played to critical acclaim in major concert halls in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Over the course of his career, Michael Palmer has made appearances as guest conductor with leading US Orchestras, including the Rochester Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, as well as orchestras in Austria, Poland, China, and most recently in Greece.

Palmer returned to Atlanta in August of 2004 as director of orchestras for Georgia State University, which in 2006 honored him with the title of Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies.

Visit Maestro Palmer’s website