Just in: BBC names new principal conductor

Just in: BBC names new principal conductor


norman lebrecht

November 21, 2017

He’s coming home.

Bramwell Tovey, stepping down as music director in Vancouver after 18 years, is to be principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, starting January.

Nobody quite remembers what the BBC CO is there for, but maybe Bram will give it some branding.

He will do an opening radio slot on Wednesday from, er, Watford. To be followed by the long-running Friday Night is Music Night.

The BBC, by the way, has omitted to make an announcement.

UPDATE: They just caught up.



  • John Groves says:

    Bramwell Tovey is an excellent choice! BUT what a strange remark to make: ” no one remembers what the BBC CO is there for”!!! Most of us know, even if Norman doesn’t, and the Watford Colosseum is a superb underused performing and recording space. Only 5 minutes walk from Watford Junction Station. Sometimes one really questions Norman’s musical knowledge!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Underused is right. No-one makes recordings there any more. As for the BBC CO, that too is seriously underused.

      • John Groves says:

        Dutton and BBC make recordings at Watford Colosseum: it’s a lovely venue – spacious and friendly. The LSO could do worse than move there and save us all from Simon Rattle’s grandiose ideas!!! To be honest, Watford Junction Station is easy to get to from south of London, as well as Birmingham and the north!!

        BBC Co is certainly underused by the BBC, but I think you will find that the orchestra has a pretty full non-BBC diary! It’s sight-reading and playing in virtually any style are superb!

        • Dominic Stafford says:

          Fewer recording were made there once they built the roundabout outside. Then it got too noisy for CBS. But the BBC CO still records and in lots of different venues!

        • Maria says:

          Only seats around 1300 and the organ is a Compton theatre model.

          The orchestra is placed in the stalls for recording. Can the platform accommodate a large orchestra and choir for concerts?

          And I think it’s called the London Symphony Orchestra for a reason.

    • Thomasina says:

      BBC CO and Mr.Oramo will visit Japan in March 2018 and I heard that the tickets were very well sold. At least the Japanese seem to know them.

      • James says:

        It us actually the BBC Symphony Orchestra touring to Japan.

      • Thomasina says:

        Sorry, my replay is for John’s second comment ” non-BBC diary “.

        • Dave says:

          And that looks like a BBC SO (not CO) tour of Japan, if Oramo is involved.
          (And I’d genuinely like to see Bram Tovey working with the BBCSO.)

          As for “non-BBC” diary, you can be pretty sure that the BBC is making money from the band’s other engagements.

          • Thomasina says:

            @James and Dave: I apologize my confusion and Thank you for correcting. I will learn from my mistakes.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Typical statement from a Londoncentric critic. Watford????? What’s wrong with that particularly as John said it is so well equipped.

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    To echo everyone else’s comments: Bramwell Tovey is an excellent choice for an orchestra that is very fine and very adventurous. Great management from Andrew Connolly and a fine leader in Charles Mutter!

  • Eric says:

    The BBC CO also does a lot of education work which you probably won’t find listed anywhere necessarily, eg the Ten Pieces series, which they toured across the country bringing classical music to thousands of primary and secondary aged schoolchildren.

  • Jon H says:

    Watford has always been one of the very best for recording. It was used by Mercury (esp. Dorati LSO recordings), Telarc, Reference Recordings – so the best. Decca had Kingsway Hall, and if you believe John Culshaw, KH was the absolute best – so of course it had to be demolished… A number of classic recording halls have not survived, so it’s important that Watford Colosseum (or Town Hall as it was called) remains.

  • Culturally Aware says:

    I can imagine Norman would be the first to criticise if the BBC Concert Orchestra was axed. He’s probably just bitter this was another conducting appointment he doesn’t agree with and wasn’t asked to be part of the search team. Personally I think the BBC Concert Orchestra is a great culture asset to the country and wish them all the best for their new era with Maestro Tovey.

  • jansumi says:

    If he accomplishes for the BBC what he has for Vancouver there will be tremendous renewal and energy. A great infusion for the BBC.

  • Will says:

    I’m not entirely sure what he has accomplished in Vancouver? Stagnation? Seems like an incredibly dull choice to me.

  • Greg says:

    Maestro Tovey is an energetic and inspirational leader in every genre he touches. He is doing amazing work as head of orchestral activities at Boston University and also maintains numerous brass band commitments around the world (including pouring into the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain). He is also highly regarded by the many orchestras with whom he guests.

  • Jasper says:

    Bravo Bramwell Tovey. Few know that he also plays an excellent jazz piano.