The next BBC music chief will be….

The next BBC music chief will be….


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2014

… probably none of the names that have been speculated in today’s papers in the wake of Roger Wright’s resignation as head of BBC Proms and Radio 3. It won’t be easy to find the right person. There is a lamentable paucity of proven managerial talent in the 30-45 age range.

The likely runners are:

– Stephen Maddock, chief executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a former Proms staffer;

– Hilary Boulding, head of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a distant Radio 3 executive;


– Graham Sheffield, director of arts at the British Council; ex-Radio 3;

– Gillian Moore, head of music at the South Bank; no BBC track record;

– Edward Blakeman, Proms minder after Wright’s departure;

– John Gilhooly, Wigmore Hall;

– Richard Wigley, BBC Philharmonic;

– Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, a willing candidate for top music jobs.




Also fancying their chances:

Jonathan Mills, outgoing Edinburgh Festival director;

Meurig Bowen, Cheltenham Festival director.

David Pickard, Glyndebourne;

David Butcher, Britten Sinfonia.


Overseas candidates:

The headhunters will place calls to the following, all with relevant UK experience:

Anthony Freud, Chicago Lyric Opera;

Graham Parker, WQXR New York;

Mary Miller, Bergen National Opera;

Simon Woods, Seattle Symphony;

Michael Henson, Minnesota Orchestra (unless they’ve been reading Slipped Disc).


And there’s always this failed candidate from the last round.


  • Henry Dunn says:

    I saw Stephen Maddock recently at a conference I was helping to organise at the Birmingham Conservatoire. It was for the British Association for Music Therapy. We were very keen to involve the CBSO as well and a fanfare was commisioned, compsed by a local Music Therapist/Composer. It was performed by a Brass Dectet from the CBSO youth orchestra, several of whom were Conservatoire students. Stephen gave one of the opening welcomes and seemed okay, though you could sense a hint of hostility between the CBSO and the Conservatoire.

  • Will Duffay says:

    It has to be a woman, surely. I mean, not because it has to be has to be, but because there will be such loud calls for a woman, especially in the context of the last year’s continual debate about the lack of women in senior positions in classical music, that they really should. Just as long as it’s not Gillian Moore. That woman gets on my nerves.

  • Dennis Marks says:

    Tony Hall has already chosen the “music chief” – it’s Bob Shennan, current controller of Radio 2, with a bi-media brief. There will be a Proms controller also, who will probably be responsible for the English orchestras as well. The past three in the role have all had broadcasting backgrounds, although in the case of Kenyon and Wright early in their careers. It’s interesting that you don’t mention Kathryn McDowell, surely a front runner. But the most important question is who will control Radio 3, in urgent need of shot of adrenalin and a restoration of lost transmission slots. This appointment (if it’s made at all and not just by moving the deckchairs) will give a clear indication of what the BBC’s new arts strategy actually means.

  • Mark Stratford says:

    Having seen Gillian Moore’s self serving speeches at the RFH Stockhausen night (last Oct) and the Vienna Phil concert, please let it not be her !

  • michael lyons says:

    There’s something delicious in the criticisms that ooze up from an informed Radio 3/Proms audience. UK culture management is a business that requires a passion for the arts, increasingly proven financial management skills and a sadistic streak.

    Graham Sheffield and Gillian Moore both carry the necessary skill sets and media acumen. Gender recognition could lean towards Gillian Moore, pure skill might favor Sheffield, both candidates qualify. As a Canadian with Irish parents I qualify as a cultural heathen with an appreciation for Radio 3 product and the objectivity that comes with a few thousand miles and 5 hours time difference.

    Enjoyed the comments of Dennis Marks, informed with a hint of ” I know and you don’t” in it’s tone. His comments may likely ring true, regardless enjoyable.


  • Stephen Wall says:

    Gillian Moore is the most qualified for the job.

    The Rest is Noise was probably the best concert

    series the UK has ever seen. This was Gillian’s doing.

    Give her the job please!

  • Fergus says:

    Am I missing a trick, but what about Paul Hughes from BBCSO??

  • Stereo says:

    Surely not the unemployable Henson,unless of course they they want the BBC and it’s orchestras run into the ground!