Just in: CBSO chief quits

Just in: CBSO chief quits


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2022

It is just being announced that Stephen Maddocks is stepping down as CEO of the City of Birmingham Symophony Orchestra, after 23 years.

He will take a short bus ride next April to become Principal at the Royal Birmingham Consrvatoire.

Stephen says: ‘I am hugely excited by my new role at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – like the CBSO, this is an outstanding Birmingham institution with a global reach, and like CBSO it has superb facilities in which to create and listen to music. I look forward to leading RBC on the next stage of its development, as it continues to open up world-class musical training to the broadest possible range of students’.

His time at the CBSO has been marked by thye outstanding, spontaneous chief conductor appointments of Andris Nelsons and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. He has also been the force behind the new Shireland CBSO Academy will open in Sandwell, the first music specialist school of its kind in the world to be run in partnership with a major orchestra.


  • Michaele says:

    Outstanding chief conductor appointment of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla?

    • IC225 says:

      Won the orchestra a DG contract, a Gramophone Record of the Year Award and huge amounts of international touring as well as hugely positive press and an enhanced global profile, so yeah, pretty outstanding. Hiring Nelsons wasn’t too shabby either.

    • Tim Walton says:

      It was a dreadful appointment. Mirga was never, is never and will be never as good as her 3 predecessors.

      • IC225 says:

        It was not a popular appointment with misogynists, certainly.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Gender aside, sometimes overhyping backfires.

          • IC225 says:

            I didn’t find any of the performances that I heard “overhyped”, and nor, clearly did the Gramophone Awards panel when it came to that Weinberg recording. Which of her concerts did you attend, and can you specify how they fell short, musically? Genuinely curious.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I was judging hype. Did I write anything about Mirga?

            To answer your question, I have not attended any of her concerts, which is why I didn’t comment on her abilities.

      • horbus rohebian says:

        In what way ‘dreadful’? You need to be more specific. She wouldn’t pretend to be a Rattle on Nelsons.

        • Amos says:

          I’m not a misogynist and consider it less than a success simply because she was absent more than any other MD in recent history.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            She was away having babies. What’s wrong with that?

          • IC225 says:

            Quite so. Some music lovers have yet to enter the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

          • Amos says:

            Absolutely nothing but you don’t accept any position that requires your full attention and then decide to take multiple year long sabbaticals. Imagine someone accepting the CEO position of a company where it is understood going in that the success of the company depends on their on-site presence and a month after coming on board announcing that the real priority of their life requires a year long absence. It was a selfish decision because she clearly must have been thinking about starting a family and yet made a commitment she had no intention of fulfilling.

          • Gustavo says:

            I envy her for her way of life.

            Wish I could go an live in Salzburg, surrounded by little Papagnos and Papagenas.

      • Jan says:

        Of course she was very good and the orchestra and audiences loved her-. She interacted with everyone and was always willing to chat – more than can be said for one of her predecessors

  • Proud Brummie says:

    Don’t forget that he’s also kept the CBSO at the very top of its game despite savage cuts in public funding.

    Stephen has done a fabulous job and will be missed enormously. He could have gone anywhere in the world at this point – Birmingham and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire are lucky to have him.

    • Gustavo says:

      So why call it quits if it’s a home run?

      • Stephen Maddock says:

        Because I have been here for 23 years so it is high time to let someone else have a go! Plus I fancy a different challenge – and I have always said I never wanted to run another orchestra after the CBSO, so RBC is a great new home for me in a city that’s bursting with music.

        And for my successor, they get to take on one of the very best jobs in orchestral music – very high artistic standards, fantastic colleagues, inspiring new Chief Conductor, a truly great hall in a highly creative city. (I just wish the football teams were better, though Villa beating Man Utd yesterday was quite funny….)

        • john humphreys says:

          It has been wonderful working with you Stephen and your support for the Dudley International Piano Competition has been heartening. I pray that the CBSO association will continue. Meanwhile lucky RBC!

        • SRW says:

          I should have known when you ran that university chamber choir all those years ago that you’d make a great success as an arts administrator! All the best for the next chapter.

      • Simon F says:

        Because nobody can stay in one job for ever and it’s good for people and institutions to have new blood.

  • LKC says:

    Absolutely love Stephen. He is terrific – one of the nicest people you could hope to work! Conservatoire are so fortunate to have him.

  • Lawrence Kershaw says:

    Well, this is sad news for a great orchestra. Stephen has been an exceptional leader and, speaking personally, a terrific colleague. Things are so strong there – due in no small part to his efforts – that I’m sure they’ll continue from strength to strength but it’s a loss nevertheless. Albeit a great win for the fabulous Conservative.

  • Violinista says:

    Congratulations Stephen you have been a real asset to the CBSO and I wish you well at the Conservatoire. Birmingham, of which I have fond memories, is very lucky to have your services. It was always a treat to pay half a crown to sit behind the horns, no matter the smell from the gas lamps, especially to hear Ernest Element to give the first performance of Robert Simpson’s violin concerto.

  • Sam G says:

    I see CBSO are also looking for two directors today too – what’s with the turnover?