BBC names woke conductor for Last Night of the Proms

BBC names woke conductor for Last Night of the Proms


norman lebrecht

July 09, 2020

The BBC has confirmed that Dalia Stasevska will conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms, despite having only made her Proms debut last year – and to mixed reviews.

This has all to do with show and little to do with substance.

Stasevska, 35, said: ‘Of course I’m tremendously happy that the Last Night is going ahead this year and that we will have two weeks of live music at the Prom. We all need music in our lives again and glimpses of light in challenging times. It will naturally be a very different Last Night from the past, but I do know that it will have terrific power to bring people together, not only in the UK but around the world too. I’m delighted that we’re able to make this happen.’

photo: BBC/Christodoulou


  • Will says:

    She’s the BBC SO’s Principal Guest conductor – so it makes entirely good sense that she’d conduct them at the Proms. I’ve only seen her once and she was excellent.

    Pretty sure Sakari Oramo has had some mixed reviews in his time too…

  • Iain Scott says:

    I’d rather have what you dismissively call a woke conductor than many of the other wannabes or has been favoured by so many orchestras. What an unpleasant term. We don’t need this nastiness

    • Una says:

      No idea what a woke conductor is, sorry. Not part of my vocabulary.

    • V. Lind says:

      It is indeed. And in any case, what makes her “woke,” if one must use the term? Being female? In which case, if that is the “woke” aspect, isn’t it the choosing of her rather than the choice that is the “woke” element?

    • John Rook says:

      Nor do we need box-ticking conductors. Of either sex (not that any white male would tick any boxes these days, such is the self-hatred bandwaggon so many have leapt on).

    • Bruce says:

      ^ some of us do, apparently

  • J Morris Jones says:

    I’ve not heard a Dalia Stasevska performance before, so I’ll be interested to hear more of her work, and will probably tune in to this concert. I wonder whether a change or two to the ‘traditional’ second-half part of the programme will be in order this year, regardless of the Covid situation? This aspect of the event has been frequently debated in the past, and held open to question.

    Back in the day, the Scottish conductor James ‘Jimmy’ Loughran did a great job at this date on several occasions (and managed to keep control of the boisterous ‘party’ bit of it with a fair amount of aplomb). Apparently he’s still alive at 89, but I imagine he’d not necessarily be wanting to make a future comeback appearance; I think he’s retired….

    On a more substantial note, I see that the archive broadcast section of this year’s Proms, featuring footage of what are described as memorable performances from the past, only date back to about 1985, and in the main these date from well past 2000. I’d been hoping that some choices of past performances from before that – say from the 60s and 70s – there must be vast amounts available at the command of the BBC archives – would be included.

  • Simon says:

    Why is this a woke choice in booking? Is she trans or something?


    I hope that all conductors are woke. I’d hate to go to a concert where the conductor was sleeping through the performance.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Could somebody tell me what woke means? Is it fair to pre judge someone, give her a chance and then moan if necessary.

  • Una says:

    Part of her job at the BBC! Nothing special about that. I’m sure all these other conductors have had mixed reviews. Good luck to her in these Covid days.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    On the evidence of her Proms appearance last year she shouldn’t be conducting anything other than the No.88 bus! That she is being given the exposure of The Last Night would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that there are plenty of far more talented and interesting conductors who deserve such an opportunity. Very poor political (because it certainly can’t be a musical one) decision BBCSO.

  • Bass One says:

    Forgive my ignorance. I’ve only been around for 76 years and suddenly this word ‘woke’ has appeared. Please enlighten me.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    “show and little to do with substance”.
    That applies, in my not so humble opinion, to a substantial proportion of today’s performers.

  • RW2013 says:

    Pickings must be slim in the yUK.

  • AngloGerman says:

    She is atrocious…

  • Steve says:

    And, besides, isn’t the Last Night of the Proms all about show rather than substance anyway?

  • DeepSouthSenior says:

    My testosterone-fueled choice would be Mirga, but this seems OK to me.

    I remember hearing that Proms concert last year. Only the Weinberg Cello Concerto with Sol Gabetta made a lasting impression. Anything by Weinberg is a delight. He should be much better known. The rest of the concert is a blank.

  • rustier spoon says:

    Excuse my ignorance…what exactly is a “woke” conductor?

  • Karajon says:

    Pardon my French, but what is a woke conductor?

  • Bruce says:

    (referring to embedded link) — Oh right, the lady with the big sleeves. Yeah, she must be terrible if she has big sleeves. I mean, look at all the pictures of Toscanini, Furtwangler, Klemperer, Karajan, both Kleibers… very small sleeves. The connection is obvious.

  • Karl says:

    Right now we should be keeping all of the older musicians isolated and let the younger ones play. Youth is more important than talent at this time. The death rate from covid is far too high in older people.

  • Paula Carballo says:

    Why do we have all these third rate foreign conductors around when we have so many second rate ones of our own?

    Sir Thomas Beecham


    Norman, you say this has more to do with show than with substance. But isn’t that what the Last Night is – a show? CP30 could probably make a decent job of it!


    Sorry, I should have mentioned that in the early days of the Star Wars saga, CP30 “conducted” the LSO!

    • Bruce says:

      That’s C3PO, if you please. Pronounced “See Threepio.” (I forget if the O is a letter or a number.)

  • Peter says:

    Urban Dictionary defines “woke” as being aware, and “knowing what’s going on in the community.” It also mentions its specific ties to racism and social injustice.

  • V. Lind says:

    The “woke” appear to be people who think 1) they are ALWAYS right and 2) Nobody has the RIGHT to challenge them.

    Then they clam they are all about rights.

  • Anne says:

    This is out and out sexism. She is a very fine conductor. Plenty of terrible male conductors have conducted the Last Night of the Proms (I should know, I’ve worked with them) without such vitriol before they’d even set foot on the Last Night stage.

  • We have so few female conductors that can handle a big orchestra, it’s about time they were given a chance to show how good they are. Stasevska is a very good conductor, I have seen her twice conducting, the only way to learn is to do it, the guys on the night will let her know how good she is, wait and see, let her have her chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

  • J Morris Jones says:

    I might add as a point of detail that last year’s Last Night opening piece, a new commission by Daniel Kidane, was entitled ‘Woke’.