The conductor Kirill Karabits will conclude his tenure as chief conductor of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in summer 2024, after a successful 15-year partnership. However, that definitely won't be the end of relations between conductor and orchestra.


Karabits and the BSO have performed cycles of Beethoven, Brahms and Prokofiev, given UK premieres of works from CPE Bach to contemporary music from Azerbaijan, and championed music from both eastern Europe and Karabits’ native Ukraine through their ongoing series Voices from the East.

Karabits is the BSO’s second longest-serving chief conductor after its founder Sir Dan Godfrey. Upon standing down from his chief conductor, Karabits will become Bournemouth's conductor laureate, artistic director, Voices from the East.

Together, Karabits and the BSO have performed a wide range of repertoire, from rediscovered CPE Bach to new music from Azerbaijan. Highlights have included focussed seasons of Beethoven, Brahms, Britten and Shostakovich, Elgar, Prokofiev and Walton. During this time, the orchestra have performed with soloists including Sunwook Kim, Nicola Benedetti, James Ehnes, Catherine Foster, Steven Isserlis, and Robert Levin.

Under Karabits’ leadership, the Orchestra has also commissioned new music from a range of composers, including Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Anna Korsun, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Sir James MacMillan. It has also given a number ofUK premieres, of works such as Penderecki’s Fourth Symphony and CPE Bach’s St John Passion (1784).

The ‘Voices from the East’ series, meanwhile, has been a majpor feature of the last few years at Bournemouth. Through performances and a series of recordings for Chandos, audiences have been introduced to music from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and the Ukraine, with composers Kara Karayev, Boris Lyatoshynsky, Chary Nurymov and Avet Terterian becoming familiar names.

'I immediately felt this was a very special group of musicians, and, artistically, we have continued to grow together over the last fifteen years,' says Karabits. 'It feels like a home from home — and never more so than during these last few years, where this community of musicians and audience has been of great support. The warmth, friendship and open-minded approach here is very special, and I am deeply proud to continue my journey as Conductor Laureate, Artistic Director, Voices from the East.'

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Carol Paige, musician trustee and principal second violin, said: 'Working alongside Kirill has been a voyage of discovery! His musicality radiates from him when he’s on the podium, inspiring us all to play our hearts out in order to produce the most thrilling live performances, which I know have been enjoyed as much on the stage as off amongst our loyal audiences. Kirill commands such huge respect and admiration from the musicians, and we look forward to sharing more memorable moments with him.'


Kirill Karabits / BSO pic: Corin Messer


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

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.