Boston Pops beat man moves to the Beeb

Boston Pops beat man moves to the Beeb


norman lebrecht

August 03, 2010

Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops since 1995, has been named chief conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, a band catering for light music and family concerts.

Lockhart, 50, has also been music director of the Utah Symphony. A forthright character, he has not shirked public controversy with his predecessors and over his personal life (he went through a messy divorce with a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). He will add a welcome splash of colour to the BBC’s most cuts-vulnerable ensemble.

Lockhart will share the London post with Johannes Wildner, principal guest conductor, a former violinist who has directed in the Prague and Leipzig opera houses after ten years as a player in the Vienna Philharmonic. Apparently, the BBC see him as an upmarket André Rieu.

The corporate press release follows:


 The BBC Concert Orchestra announce new conductors

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.”

Full information at

For further press information or pictures please contact Madeleine Castell 
0207 765 5575



  • Alasdair Malloy says:

    Quotes from above:
    “BBC Concert Orchestra, a band catering for light music and family concerts”
    “the BBC’s most cuts-vulnerable ensemble”
    Neither statement is true – the BBC Concert Orchestra is the BBC’s most versatile ensemble and the most valued across the entire network for it’s contribution to the widest possible range of broadcasting and recording, including award-winning soundtracks and events such as The Electric proms as well as the most diverse own-promotion series of any BBC orchestra.
    Such dismissive comments display a complete lack of understanding of the purpose and role of the BBC music units within the BBC and of the esteem in which the BBC Concert Orchestra is held by leading musicians in areas of performance and recording far removed from any other orchestra in the UK.

  • Slipped disc says:

    Alasdair is principal percussionist of the BBC Concert Orchestra with which he frequently appears as a soloist and for special projects such as the ‘BBC Family Prom in the Park’ concert series in Hyde Park as part of the BBC Proms.