Edmonton Symphony Orchestra has signed a new conductor to a five-year contract starting with its 2017-18 season.

Alexander Prior, who is 24, says his decision to choose Edmonton included the players' skills and the Winspear Centre, which he called among the best in North America.

Prior, who was born in London, has conducted the Edmonton orchestra during several guest appearances since 2014 and says he felt a special chemistry with the players and the audience.

At the age of 13, his ballet Mowgli, commissioned by the Moscow State Ballet, received international critical acclaim.

He was the youngest student since Sergei Prokofiev to graduate with distinction as a conductor from the Conservatoire in St. Petersburg at the age of 17.

Prior has been awarded Conducting Fellowships at the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival and has conducted numerous orchestras, including the Seattle, Victoria and New World symphonies.

Winspear Centre CEO Annemarie Petrov said Edmontonians are in for a treat with Prior.

"He's a remarkable musician, he's gregarious and exceptionally well-spoken, and a lot of fun. And he already has this marvellous connection with the musicians," Petrov said.

"Put simply, he's one-of-a-kind. Edmonton music lovers will look at this era with Alex with fondness and wonder, just as they look at (Music Director Emeritus) Bill Eddins' tenure here."

Prior said he was also struck by Edmonton's energy, its big spaces, the beauty of its river valley, and the intelligence of its classical music audiences.

"I'm thrilled to join an organization that is so intentional about inviting all Edmontonians, from every background and circumstance, to experience music, to play it, to be transformed by it," Prior said.