Hot on the heels of a resounding performance at the BBC Proms Sondheim at 80 celebration on Saturday evening, the BBC Concert Orchestra is delighted to announce the signing of Keith Lockhart as Principal Conductor and Johannes Wildner as Principal Guest Conductor. The announcement signals the beginning of a new era for the BBC’s most versatile performing group, renowned for their dynamism in classical, jazz and light music.

Keith Lockhart makes his BBC Proms debut with the BBC CO on Monday 30 August leading an evening of English classics and US pizzazz, featuring music by Bernstein, Walton and Gershwin, with audience participation on a giant scale in ‘You Must Remember This: A Cinematic Singalong’.

Keith joins the BBC Concert Orchestra whilst continuing his successful work with the celebrated Boston Pops, where he has been Conductor since 1994, bringing music to a wide audience throughout New England and across America. Previous positions include Music Director for the Utah Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to last year. His formidable experience in broad repertoire, allied with his love of all things British make him perfectly positioned to lead the BBC Concert Orchestra through to its 60th year in 2012 and beyond.

Having already conducted the BBC CO on a number of acclaimed recordings, broadcasts and concerts over the past two seasons, Keith says:

“It has been a joy to make music with the BBC Concert Orchestra and I am honoured to be embarking on a more formal relationship with this virtuosic and versatile group of musicians. The unique variety of the BBC Concert Orchestra's concert offerings in the UK and their unrivalled role on BBC TV and Radio, together with their ambitious touring plans, provide an immense opportunity for audience connection at the most meaningful level. I'm excited to get started, and look forward to our upcoming Proms concert, as well as our United States tour later in the fall.”

The BBC CO’s General Manager, Andrew Connolly, says: “In securing Keith Lockhart as the BBC Concert Orchestra’s seventh Principal Conductor we welcome a musician who embodies the international appeal and ambition of the Concert Orchestra – 2010 style! From its roots in the British Light Music tradition the BBC CO now embraces music awesomely broad in range and style. Under Keith Lockhart’s direction we look forward to making evermore musical discoveries through a shared, open-minded approach to stretching the limits of orchestral possibilities.”

Alongside Keith Lockhart, the BBC Concert Orchestra has appointed Johannes Wildner as Principal Guest Conductor. He joins the orchestra after holding positions as Chief Conductor of the Prague State Opera, First Permanent Conductor of the Leipzig Opera and General Music Director of the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia in Germany, from 1997-2007. At the beginning of his professional career Johannes spent 10 years as a violinst of the Vienna Philharmonic which helped shape his distinctive stamp.

Johannes says:
“A musician is always audience facing and in my new role as the BBC CO’s Principal Guest Conductor I will continue to put people at the heart of what we do. Together we have many ideas, many possibilities and many opportunities to create stand out moments in the hall and on the radio. With high instrumental standards, great flexibility and musicianship I look forward to the future, a future of good music with the BBC Concert Orchestra.”

Andrew Connolly continues:
“Johannes’s affinity for repertoire from the Strauss family to contemporary music, as well as his first hand experience of the great European music making tradition has won him many friends in the orchestra and audiences alike. His first concert as Principal Guest Conductor will be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 27 September this year.”

Barry Wordsworth, the BBC CO’s Conductor Laureate, says of the signings:
“It is a fantastic moment for me to see two such fine and exciting conductors join us. With Jonny Greenwood as Composer-in-Residence and the support of our forward looking management, we now have a team of great artistic strength to create and deliver distinctive output in all areas of our music making.”


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