After leading the world’s greatest classical music festival for nearly a decade, David Pickard has decided to step down as the Director of the BBC Proms. He will remain in post until October 2024, overseeing the Proms 2024 and planning for future seasons.
David was appointed Director of the BBC Proms in 2015, to fulfil the BBC’s mission, set out by Henry Wood, to bring the best classical music to the widest possible audience. Over the years he has expanded the breadth of the Proms, reaching new audiences across the UK and increasing the diversity of artists, composers and collaborators. This year’s season featured the first ever weekend-long Proms festival outside London at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music in the North East of England; the first time in Proms history that both the First Night and Last Night were conducted by women (Dalia Stasevska and Marin Alsop respectively); and one of the most celebrated seasons in recent history, featuring a broad range of classical music, from the UK premiere of György Kurtág’s opera Endgame and Aurora’s memorised Rite of Spring to concerts celebrating Northern Soul and Bollywood.
Under David’s tenure, some of the world’s most exciting musicians and ensembles have made their BBC Proms debuts, from cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and soprano Lise Davidsen to Chineke! Orchestra and the Sinfonia of London. He has brought some of the world’s finest international orchestras to the Proms, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Budapest Festival and Boston Symphony Orchestras, and has overseen BBC commissions from some of the world’s most acclaimed living composers, including Thomas Adès, Hildur Guðnadóttir, George Benjamin, Hannah Kendall and Judith Weir. David has also expanded the scope of the Proms programme to include multi-disciplinary projects, from Anna Meredith’s Five Telegrams, featuring projections on the outside of the Royal Albert Hall, to Glass/Handel at Printworks encompassing music, dance, film and soundscapes.
David Pickard says: “It has been an immense honour and privilege to run the world’s greatest classical music festival alongside an incredible team, working with many of the most exciting orchestras, musicians and artists on the planet. By the end of next summer I will have planned and delivered nine Proms seasons and it feels like the right time to move on and explore new projects. After the critical and box office success of the 2023 Proms, I look forward to delivering one more season in 2024.”
Sam Jackson, Controller of BBC Radio 3, said: “David has done a fantastic job as Director of the Proms and I thank him for all his hard work over the years. It was a pleasure working alongside him this season, where I saw first-hand his commitment to musical excellence and reaching broader audiences – leading to record-breaking figures on BBC Sounds and iPlayer. David has consistently championed classical music at the BBC, in particular the BBC’s own orchestras and choirs, ensuring they remain the beating heart of every Proms season. I look forward to working with him again next year and giving him a proper send-off after the Last Night of the Proms.”
Prior to his current role, David spent fourteen years as General Director of Glyndebourne and eight years as Chief Executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
The recruitment process for a senior leader overseeing the BBC Proms will start in the new year.
About the BBC Proms
As the world’s biggest classical music festival, the BBC Proms offers eight weeks of world-class music-making from a vast array of leading orchestras, conductors and soloists from the UK and around the world. Across more than 80 concerts, the festival aims to offer a summer of music that allows for the most diverse and exciting musical journeys. More than 125 years since it was founded, the driving factor in building a festival of this scale is to offer exceptional music-making at the lowest possible prices, continuing founder-conductor Henry Wood’s original ambition of bringing the best classical music to the widest possible audience. With every Prom broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and more than 20 programmes on BBC television and a range of concerts taking place across the UK each year, the Proms reaches far beyond the Royal Albert Hall.