London’s BBC Proms Director to Step Down
Following the 2024 Proms, David Pickard will depart as director after nine years in the role
David Pickard was appointed director of the BBC Proms in 2015. Since then, he has expanded the breadth of the event and worked to reach new audiences across the UK, while increasing artist, composer, and collaborator diversity.
Under Pickard’s leadership, the BBC Proms has featured artists such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Lise Davidsen, the Chineke! Orchestra, and London’s Sinfonia, plus hosted the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Budapest Festival, and Boston Symphony Orchestras, among others.
He has also overseen BBC commissions from acclaimed living composers, including Thomas Adès, Hildur Guðnadóttir, George Benjamin, Hannah Kendall, and Judith Weir.
Additionally, Pickard introduced a range of multidisciplinary projects to the Proms, including Anna Meredith’s Five Telegrams, which featured projections on the outside of the Royal Albert Hall, and Glass/Handel at Printworks, which combined music, dance, film, and soundscapes.
The 2023 Proms featured the first ever weekend-long Proms festival outside London at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music in the North East of England; for the first time in Proms history, both the First Night and Last Night Proms were conducted by women — Dalia Stasevska and Marin Alsop respectively.
“This year, two-thirds of our concert commissions are by women, while a third of our concerts include a piece by a woman in them,” Pickard said in The Guardian. “This is hugely, hugely advanced on the figures we would have given you 10 years ago. Is it enough? No, not yet, but the motivation to change these things is enormous.”
The latest season also featured the UK premiere of György Kurtág’s opera Endgame, Aurora Orchestra’s memorized Rite of Spring, plus concerts celebrating Northern Soul and Bollywood genres.
Pickard started his career at the Royal Opera House before working at the New Shakespeare Company, Kent Opera, the Japan Festival, and the European Arts Festival.
Before joining the BBC Proms, he spent 14 years as general director of Glyndebourne Festival, and eight years as CEO of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Recruitment for a new senior leader overseeing the BBC Proms will begin in 2024.
“It has been an immense honor and privilege to run the world's greatest classical music festival alongside an incredible team, working with many of the most exciting orchestras, musicians and artists on the planet,” Pickard said in the press release. “By the end of next summer I will have planned and delivered nine Proms seasons and it feels like the right time to move on and explore new projects. After the critical and box office success of the 2023 Proms, I look forward to delivering one more season in 2024.”
“David has done a fantastic job as Director of the Proms and I thank him for all his hard work over the years,” added Sam Jackson, controller of BBC Radio 3. “It was a pleasure working alongside him this season, where I saw first-hand his commitment to musical excellence and reaching broader audiences – leading to record-breaking figures on BBC Sounds and iPlayer.
“David has consistently championed classical music at the BBC, in particular the BBC’s own orchestras and choirs, ensuring they remain the beating heart of every Proms season,” Jackson continued. “I look forward to working with him again next year and giving him a proper send-off after the Last Night of the Proms.”