Sir Andrew Frank Davis CBE (born 2 February 1944) is an English conductor. He is currently music director and principal conductor of Lyric Opera of Chicago, chief conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Ashridge, Hertfordshire to Robert J. Davis and his wife Florence Joyce (née Badminton), Davis grew up in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and in Watford. Davis attended Watford Boys' Grammar School, where he studied classics in his sixth form years. His adolescent musical work included playing the organ at the Palace Theatre, Watford. Davis studied at the Royal Academy of Music and King's College, Cambridge where he was an organ scholar, graduating in 1967. He later studied conducting in Rome with Franco Ferrara.
Davis' first major post was as associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 1970. In 1975, he became music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). He held the post until 1988, and then took the title of Conductor Laureate with the TSO.
In 1988, Davis became music director at Glyndebourne, where he met the American soprano Gianna Rolandi, who became his third wife. Davis concluded his Glyndebourne tenure in 2000. In 1989, Sir John Drummond appointed Davis as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC SO). During his BBC SO tenure, Davis restored the tradition established by Malcolm Sargent of the chief conductor of the BBC SO conducting the Last Night of The Proms. He was noted for his humorous Last Night speeches, including giving two speeches after the Major-General's patter song from The Pirates of Penzance, but he also more seriously addressed the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mother Teresa, and Sir Georg Solti in his 1997 Last Night speech. Davis stepped down as the BBC SO's chief conductor in 2000 and now holds the title of conductor laureate of the BBC SO.
In May 1992, Davis was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and in the 1999 New Year Honours List he was appointed a Knight Bachelor. In 2002, he conducted the Prom at the Palace concert, held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace as part of the celebrations for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Davis became the music director and principal conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2000. His work in Chicago has included his first conducting of Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle of Richard Wagner in 2005 and the first Chicago production of Michael Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage. His current contract with Lyric Opera of Chicago is through the 2020–2021 season.
In 2005, Davis became Music Advisor to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, for a designated three-year period. In September 2006, he announced that he would relinquish this position with Pittsburgh after the 2007–2008 season. In October 2007, Davis and the orchestra mutually agreed to terminate his contract early and for him not to conduct his scheduled Pittsburgh Symphony concerts in the 2007–2008 season, because of increased demands on his schedule. Outside of the USA, in June 2012, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra named Davis its chief conductor, effective in January 2013, with an initial contract of 4 years.
Davis has performed a wide range of repertoire, with a particular focus on contemporary British music. He is particularly associated with Michael Tippett, including the British premiere of his work The Mask of Time. Davis has recorded for a number of labels, including NMC Recordings, Teldec and Deutsche Grammophon. He has also made a critically acclaimed recording of Harrison Birtwistle's opera, The Mask of Orpheus.
Davis and his wife reside in Chicago.