The BBC has announced the appointment of its first head of orchestras and choirs. The role goes to Simon Webb, who has been director of the BBC Philharmonic since 2014.
Webb also has experience working in management and leadership roles across the UK’s orchestras. These include the London Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was served as chair of the board of directors for four years, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he served as director of orchestral management. In 2020, meanwhile, Webb was elected Chair of the Association of British Orchestras. He began his career as a cellist, working in orchestras across the UK, Portugal, Hong Kong and Ireland.
The position of head of orchestras and choirs was created following the BBC’s classical music review, examining the corporation's role in the UK's wider classical music ecology. Taking up the role in January 2023, Webb will develop a creative strategy for the BBC orchestras and choirs, create an ambitious education and outreach programme, and lead on the work to innovate and develop future audiences.
He will identify and develop partnerships across the UK and, together with the controller, Radio 3 and BBC Proms, will maximise opportunities for new, emerging and diverse talent.
Based in Salford, Webb will be directly responsible for the English ensembles and support the leadership and creative direction for the Nations’ orchestras, maximising the impact of the BBC’s classical activity across the UK.
Simon Webb says: 'The BBC Orchestras and Choirs fulfil a unique and valuable role within the UK orchestral sector. They are internationally recognised for the excellence of their performances on-air, online and in venues across the UK, for their education work and the value they bring as partners both within the BBC and beyond. I am delighted to be taking on this new role that further reinforces the importance of the BBC’s orchestras and choirs in the BBC and in the wider classical music ecology.’
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Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.