John Farrer: Conductor


John Farrer has been music director of the Bakersfield (CA) and Roswell (NM) symphony orchestras for more than 30 seasons. He is a senior guest conductor of the English Sinfonia, and several recordings of string music with that ensemble have been released. He frequently conducts the New Queens Hall Orchestra with whom he’s recorded Brahms Symphony #2. Among other British orchestras he’s conducted are the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, and the London Mozart Players.

Also a gifted and respected mentor, Mr. Farrer is often invited to speak in the outreach/education programs for the San Francisco Symphony and the American Symphony Orchestra League. He is a recipient of New Mexico’s highest arts honor, the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement. In recent seasons Mr. Farrer has undertaken the music directorship of the Santa Maria (CA) Symphony Orchestra and initiated the California Conducting Institute and the London Conducting Workshops at the Royal Academy.


Brahms Symphony No. 4. Brahms, Beethoven. 

New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Organic Classics. 

Brahms Symphony No. 2. Brahms, Elgar, Mozart, Weber. 

New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Organic Classics, 2004.

Weber – Oberon Overture
Brahms – Symphony No. 2 in D, Opus 73
Elgar – Salut d’Amour, Opus 12
Mozart – The Marriage of Figaro, Overture
“It is this almost indefinable sense of what one might term the re-creation of a virtually lost living tradition in Farrer’s performance that additionally makes this a version to be heard. There is a deep respect for the music, without point-scoring or glamorizing… I have played this performance more than a dozen times, with breaks of several weeks in between, and my appreciation of it has deepened… I commend it to all who take their music seriously.” (Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review)

Dohnanyi. English Sinfonia, ASV, 1997.

American Rhapsody, Opus 47
Harp Concertino, Opus 45
Romanza (from Serenade in C, Opus 10, arr. Sitkovetski)
Violin Concerto Number 2, Opus 43
Wedding Waltz, Opus 18, Number 4 from The Veil of Pierrette
“The American Rhapsody is full of gorgeous melodies although it is quite loosely structured, however it receives a splendid performance from Farrer and the ES who play the music for all its worth… Janice Graham plays with commitment and panache, and she is sympathetically accompanied by Farrer and his orchestra. The other works are a rousing Wedding waltz from ‘The Veil of Pierette’ and the pensive Romanza from the Serenade in C arranged by Dmitry Shostakovitch. Both are splendidly played by Farrer and the ES. AS&V provide a beefy, clear cut recording that adds to the enjoyment of the music which is never less than excellent. Recommended to lovers of romantic music from this Hungarian master.” Gerald Fenech, ClassicalNet.


Music of Ireland and Vaughan Williams. 

English Sinfonia, Carleton Classics, 1996.

Concertino Pastoral: Eclogue
Concertino Pastoral: Threnody
Concertino Pastoral: Toccata
A Downland Ste: Minuet (Allegretto grazioso)
A Downland Ste: Elegy (Lento espressivo)
The Holy Boy – A Carol of the Nativity
FiveVariants of ‘Dives and Lazarus’
Fant on ‘Greensleeves’
Partita: Prid
Partita: Scherzo Ostinato
Partita: Intermezzo (Homage to Henry Hall)
Partita: Fant
“[If Farrer’s] tendency towards heightened sensitivity be a fault it is certainly one in the right direction as is exemplified by his ravishing treatment of The Holy Boy. How wonderful also to hear the English Sinfonia play with the sort of sparkling precision in the Concertino Pastorale which rather tended to elude them under [other conductor’s] baton… One of the English Sinfonia’s finest ever releases.” (Julian Haylock, Orchestral Reviews)

Britten – Tippett. 

English Sinfonia, Carleton Classics, 1995.

Britten – Simple Symphony for String Orchestra, Opus 4
Britten – Lachrymae, reflections on a song of Dowland, for Viola and String Orchestra, Opus 48a
Britten – Prelude & Fugue, for 18 strings, Opus 29
Tippett – Concerto for Double String Orchestra

Copland – Billy the Kid. Copland, Gershwin. 

Bournemouth Symphony, Carleton Classics, 1993.

Copland – Rodeo, selections from the ballet (including ‘Four Dance Episodes’)

– Buckaroo Spring
– Corral Nocturne
– Saturday Night Waltz
– Hoe-­‐Down

Copland – Billy the Kid, orchestral suite from the ballet

– Introduction: The Open Prairie
– Street in a Frontier Town
– Mexican Dance and Finale
– Prairie Night: Card Game
– Gun Battle
– Celebration (After Billy’s Capture)
– Billy’s Death
– The Open Prairie Again

Gershwin – Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture (Arr. Robert Russell Bennett)

The Bournemouth Symphony play for their lives, and John Farrer… proves himself a worthwhile advocate of the Copland style. Rhythms fizz and bounce, accents are sharply etched, solo woodwind work is exceptional, and the recording has tremendous weight and amplitude, altogether in the demonstration category. This is a rendition worthy of Bernstein himself.” Tony Haywood, Music Web International


English String Music: Berkeley, Britten, Holst, Tippett. 

English Sinfonia, Carleton Classics, 1992.

Tippett – Little Music
Britten – Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Opus 10
Berkeley – Serenade for Strings, Opus 12
Holst – St. Paul’s Suite for Strings, Opus 29, Number 2/H 118

Dvorak: Nature, Life and Love. 

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, ASV, 1992.

In Nature’s Realm
Carnival Overture
Symphonic Variations
Scherzo Capriccioso
“Farrer does well with the overture cycle too, exploding into your living room in the opening measures of Carnival and presenting one of the better versions around of In Nature’s Realm… Best of all is Farrer’s direct and to-the-point Symphonic Variations, which can verge on the turgid in lesser hands.” (Haller, American Record Guide)


Dvorak: Slavonic Dances Complete, Opus 46 and Opus 72. 

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, ASV, 1991.

“From the high-spirited opening strains of Op. 46, No. 1, to the yearning nostalgia of Op. 72, No. 8, there is an exuberant, expansive response to the music’s many mood swings… In the end I find myself responding more to Farrer’s warmly impulsive, generous vitality…” (Harris Goldsmith, Musical America)


Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet. 

London Philharmonic Orchestra, ASV, 1989.

Hamlet: Fant Ov, Opus 67
Romeo and Juliet: Fant Ov
Francesca Da Rimini: Symphonic Fantasia, Opus 32
“If you want to hear the difference a real conductor can make, check out John Farrer’s “Romeo and Juliet”… here is all the tension and electricity missing from [other conductor’s] account, suggesting that, for all the ardor of the love music, the threat of violence and disruption is never far away.” (William S. Goodfellow, Deseret News)

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Audio Samples

The Complete Slavonic Dances

Anton Dvorak
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
John Farrer, Conductor

1. No. 5 in A Major, Op. 46
2. No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 46
3. No. 7 in C Major, Op. 72
Romeo and Juliet

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
London Philharmonic Orchestra
John Farrer, Conductor

Fantasy Overture