Sutherland was appointed as pianist and staff conductor for Northern Ballet Theatre from 1992 – 98. On the basis of his first CD, British Light Music Discoveries on ASV, he began working with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia on the concert platform and as the orchestra of Birmingham Royal Ballet (involving both national and international tours). He has featured as Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and has also guest conducted for the Bayerischer Staatsballett, Royal Swedish Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, New National Ballet of Japan, Norwegian National Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, New Adventures and South African Ballet Theatre.
In June 2008 he was appointed Music Director of English National Ballet, becoming Principal Conductor in 2010. He has conducted the company on both national and international tours, and has also contributed orchestrations to the company for their productions of Tamara Rojo’s Raymonda (Glazunov), Akram Khan’s Giselle (Vincenzo Lamagna after Adam), Le Corsaire (Adam et al), Men Y Men (Rachmaninoff), No Man’s Land (Liszt), and the ENB2 productions of Angelina Ballerina’s Big Audition, Angelina’s Star Performance and the My First Ballet series. In 2017 he made his debut at the Royal Opera House, guest conducting Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde as part of the celebration of the life and work of Sir Kenneth Macmillan. Gavin stepped down from the Music Director post in 2022 and remains connected to the company as Principal Guest Conductor, conducting regular seasons.
Gavin Sutherland has made over a hundred recordings in the UK and abroad, predominantly with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the BBC Concert Orchestra and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, for labels such as Decca, Universal, Sony, Warner Classics, Naxos Records’ Marco Polo imprint, Hyperion Records and Dutton-Vocalion. He has played a part in the revival of British Light Music chiefly through several popular series of discs, although he has recorded works as wide-ranging as Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, two chart-topping albums featuring scores from the Carry On films, and the single release of the Radio 4 UK Theme. From 2009-2018 he was Chairman of the Light Music Society, succeeding the President, the late Ernest Tomlinson MBE, and also being responsible for Library of Light Orchestral Music, an important archive offering over 50,000 sets of light music for sale or rental to the public, in order to actively promote the performance of light music all over the world.
Sutherland appears regularly in concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra (particularly as a conductor for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night), the Münchner Rundfunksorchester, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In May 2001, Gavin began another lasting relationship, as Principal Guest Conductor of the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom he conducted many seasons in both Melbourne and Sydney Opera House. He has also guest conducted orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, the Auckland Philharmonia, the National Orchestra of Colombia, Sinfonia Verum, the Macao Symphony Orchestra, the London and Manchester Concert Orchestras, Scottish Opera, Aalborg Symfoniorkester and the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra.
He made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in the Strictly Prom at London’s Royal Albert Hall. In 2017 he conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as part of the Last Night of the Proms celebrations, from Swansea’s Singleton Park.
In addition to his work as a conductor, Gavin Sutherland works frequently as a composer/arranger. He regularly supplies arrangements and orchestrations performed by all of the major BBC orchestras, the Australian Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Scottish National, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Opera House, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Hallé Orchestras amongst others. His adaptation of Adam’s Giselle for the Norwegian National Ballet was revived by Milwaukee Ballet in 2004 and 2014 and will see a further staging by Estonian National Ballet in 2024. 2007 also saw him contribute a ten-minute medley of Carry On film themes for the BBC/BAFTA Film Music Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. During the pandemic Sutherland produced reduced orchestrations of many major ballets for international companies, as well as making “Orchestra at Home” videos with the ENB Philharmonic.
As a pianist he performs regularly as a concerto soloist, often directing from the keyboard, and appears as a recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician. In 2005 he released three live recordings of improvisations and compositions, and provided the arrangements and conducted many sell-out UK tours for Raymond Gubbay. His work also features the reconstructions of works whose materials have been lost or destroyed, encompassing TV and film scores to classical ballet and symphonic orchestral works. As a speaker and broadcaster he has frequently spoken on BBC Radio and Television, and is renowned as an expert on ballet music, British Light Music and the music of British Television.
In 2019 he was nominated for the first Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Creative Contribution, winning the award the following year. He made his debut with the Bayerischer Staatsballett in 2021, and the 2022/23 season saw further debuts with the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Royal Swedish Ballet and Finnish National Ballet. 2024 also sees music arrangements for a new ballet by Johan Kobborg and a new production of Giselle for Javier Torres and Finnish National Ballet.