In 1994, Gatti made his first guest conducting appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). He was immediately offered the position of the RPO's principal conductor, and he assumed the post in 1996. Gatti is regarded as having restored the RPO's status on par to the other main London orchestras. During his tenure, in 2004, the RPO acquired its first permanent residency at Cadogan Hall. In April 2007, Gatti was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert. In 2009, Gatti stepped down as the RPO's principal conductor and became the orchestra's conductor laureate.