The orchestra that can't find its head

The orchestra that can't find its head


norman lebrecht

February 14, 2012

Ever since Simon Taylor left in the summer to run Dublin’s National Concert Hall, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has been without a chief executive.

Not for want of searching. They’ve tried headhunters. They even reached the point of offering the job to someone from outside the classical music world, only for the candidate to say thanks, but no thanks.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the Lighthouse, Poole

Seven months without a leader is a very big gap, especially when the orchestra tells its local newspaper that it is facing ‘death of 1,000 cuts’.

So what’s the problem? Partly the cuts. Things are getting tough on the South Coast, and when the going gets tough the tough-talkers get going … in the opposite direction.

Is there a solution? Eyes lit up when news broke of Simon Crookall’s precipitate departure from Indianapolis. Crookall used to run Scotland’s national orchestra. Just the man for the joy, they thought.

Er, no. It has now become clear that Crookall was eased out of Indy by his music director, Krzysztof Urbanski. It seems that Urbanski shares a manager with Kirill Karabits, Bournemouth’s excellent music director. Information travels fast by Skype. Crookall will need to look elsewhere.

As for another unsettled US manager – Tony Woodcock at NEC – well, he’s already done the Bournemouth job. They know all they need to know.

It’s not looking good.


  • Tony says:

    The Bournemouth office does not reply to emails they do not like to answer either.

    Now the BSO is operating its own productions and label as an enterprise, their recording programme should be available to production companies for contractors to tender for if they are not doing the recordings in-house. This is public money after all and should be spent with due consideration, not just doled out to chums on an old pals’ basis by a separate outside commercial organisation. It is a similar story at the London Philharmonic, although it is a different commercial organisation dealing in the favours to its chums.