The BBC Philharmonic has announced that the Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena will succeed Gianandrea Noseda as Chief Conductor in September 2011. Gianandrea has held the position since 2002, and will take the new title of Conductor Laureate when he steps down.
Mena’s contract is for an initial period of three years, for twelve weeks per year. He will conduct the Orchestra in its main concert series at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, as well as at the BBC Proms in London and on international tours. Concerts by the orchestra are recorded or broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
As part of the BBC Philharmonic’s exclusive contract with Chandos Records, Mena will record regularly with the Orchestra. He has already made his first disc with Chandos and the BBC Philharmonic, featuring works by French composer Gabriel Pierné with soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. It will be released next year.
Juanjo Mena, 44, was born in Vitoria in the Basque region of Northern Spain, where he began his musical training at the Vitoria-Gasteiz Conservatory. From 1999 to 2008 he was Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, and he has been Principal Guest Conductor at the Bergen Philharmonic since 2007. In the same year he was appointed Principal Guest at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Italy. Outside of Europe he works with many of America’s leading ensembles, and he makes his debut with the Boston Symphony later this month.
He has enjoyed recent engagements with the Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Scottish Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Says Richard Wigley, General Manager of the BBC Philharmonic: “Juanjo Mena is a wonderful musician who will continue the tradition of world class Chief Conductors at the BBC Philharmonic. His ability to combine overarching vision with a masterly attention to detail augurs well for many years of very special music making.”
Juanjo Mena adds: “It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful orchestra. The enthusiasm and responsiveness of the musicians of the BBC Philharmonic create an ideal atmosphere in which we can work together to realise our musical ideas.”
Juanjo Mena is married and has two young children. He lives in Legutiano, an hour’s drive from the Northern Spanish city of Bilbao.
Juanjo Mena will be conducting the BBC Philharmonic live on BBC Radio 3 on Friday 9 July at 2pm for Afternoon on 3. The programme includes the Overture from Verdi’s opera, Nabucco, Guridi’s Ten Basque Melodies and Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony, and will be his first concert with the orchestra since his new title was announced.