Yates was born in London. After attending Kimbolton School (1969 - 1974), he studied at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College of Music, London, where his teachers included Bernard Keeffe (conducting), Richard Arnell (composition), Ian Lake, Jakob Kaletsky and Alan Rowlands (piano), and Douglas Moore and John Burden (French horn).
He made his conducting debut 1983 with Israel National Opera in Carmen; appeared with them as guest conductor for two seasons, where he conducted Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and La traviata. He came to UK notice making his Edinburgh Festival debut in 1988 with Leonard Bernstein's On The Town, thereafter conducted several major London musicals, including The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty's Theatre), Miss Saigon (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Carousel (Shaftesbury Theatre) and Sunset Boulevard (Adelphi Theatre). In 1995 crossed back to mainstream classical music and has since appeared at several major opera houses including Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Rome, Tokyo and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He conducts many major symphony orchestras, including Gothenburg Symphony, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra among others. He is a regular conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra (conducting the Proms in the Park in London for three years running) and has made notable recordings of composer Richard Arnell's work as well as recordings by other neglected British composers. For three years running he conducted the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, and he regularly conducts the Royal Ballet, both at Covent Garden and on their international tours.
As a composer his music for Flute and Piano has recently been recorded by flautist Anna Noakes and he has written concertos for Horn, Trumpet, Euphonium, Organ, Flute and Flute & Harp as well as 4 string quartets which are published by Broadbent & Dunn. He wrote a musical with Dudley Stevens (The Soap Opera 1986), seen briefly at the Piccadilly Theatre, London and another musical with Steve Devereaux (Wuthering Heights).
He has made over 70 recordings, including (for Dutton Epoch) the world premier recordings of the complete symphonies, ballets and concertos of Richard Arnell, John Joubert Symphony 2, Symphonies 3 & 4, Sinfonietta 1 & Piano Concerto 2 by Stanley Bate, Thomas Dunhill (Symphony in A), Erik Chisholm (Symphony No. 2), Peter Crossley-Holland (Symphony in D), String Orchestra music by Arnold Bax, Stephen Dodgson and Richard Arnell, Orchestral Songs by John Ireland, Arnold Bax and others, also Piano Concertos (with pianist Victor Sangiorgio) by Stanley Bate, Benjamin Godard and Franz Reizenstein and with pianist Peter Donohoe piano concertos by Malcolm Arnold, Alan Bush and Cyril Scott and with pianist Martin Roscoe the complete piano & orchestra works by [CM Widor]. He has also recorded five Cello Concertos with the celebrated cellist Raphael Wallfisch (Havergal Brian, York Bowen, Alan Bush, John Foulds and Lionel Sainsbury). During the 1990s he made many recordings of complete musicals for TER, including Brigadoon, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweet Charity, Stop the World I Want to Get Off, The Fantasticks & Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He conducted the highly regarded Royal National Theatre production of Carousel in London's west end and made the London cast recording.
In 2010 he completed and orchestrated Ernest John Moeran's Symphony No.2 (from sketches),which he recorded with the RSNO on Dutton Epoch in 2011. This recording was awarded Recording of the Year by Musicweb International. The first public performance of the Symphony was given by Yates and the BBC Concert Orchestra at the English Music Festival in June 2012. A subsequent performance took place with Yates conducting the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra in Brighton in December 2012. Yates completed Edward Elgar's Pageant of Empire (Recorded by Yates conducting baritone Roderick Williams), realised and completed Richard Arnell's Symphony No.7 (Mandela)(Recorded by Yates and the RSNO). His orchestration of Sarnia - an Island Sequence for Orchestra by John Ireland has recently been recorded by the RSNO and released on Dutton Epoch. His orchestration for the Kenneth MacMillan Ballet Manon was made for the Royal Ballet in 2011 and is now used throughout the world and his orchestration of the Carlos Acosta Ballet Don Quixote was made for the Royal Ballet and premiered in September 2013. In 2012 he completed the early Piano Concerto and completed and revised the early Cello Concerto both by Cyril Scott. He recorded these for Dutton Epoch with Peter Donohoe (Piano) and Raphael Wallfisch (Cello) with the BBC.
From 1994 - 1999 he was the Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in London and since 2010 he has been the principal conductor of The Symphony Orchestra of the Cambridge University Music Society.
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