About the Orchestra
The BBC Concert Orchestra is one of the UK’s most versatile ensembles. Since 1952 it has been the house orchestra for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night. It gives frequent broadcasts on BBC Radio 3, including regular performances at the BBC Proms, and has performed on such recent BBC soundtracks as Africa and The Paradise.
The BBC Concert Orchestra is one of the UK’s most versatile ensembles and is an Associate Orchestra at Southbank Centre. Since 1952 it has been the house orchestra for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night. It gives frequent broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and is heard on such BBC soundtracks as Africa and The Paradise.
Keith Lockhart is the BBC CO’s Principal Conductor, Barry Wordsworth is the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate, and arranger and jazz trumpeter Guy Barker is currently Associate Composer, a position previously held by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and the Art of Noise’s Anne Dudley.
Appearances at the 2014 BBC Proms included the first ever BBC Sport Prom, a late-night concert with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys, a commemoration of the First World War centenary in the War Horse Prom, and a celebration of American music with Keith Lockhart and Time for Three. On the Last Night the orchestra performed in Hyde Park at Proms in the Park and the following day with Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
Concerts in the 2014-15 season have included an exploration of the ballet music and culture of 1920s Paris, an all-American programme with maverick organist Cameron Carpenter, and a showcase of new British jazz at the EFG London Jazz Festival. The BBC CO also enjoys residencies at Watford Colosseum and Chichester Festival Theatre.
The orchestra plays a central role in key BBC Music initiatives, including the ‘Ten Pieces’ project which introduces children aged 7 - 11 to classical music, the inaugural BBC Music Awards on national television and as the ‘impossible orchestra’ alongside 27 star performers in the film and CD release of ‘God Only Knows’.
Guy Barker has been nominated twice for the Mercury Prize for albums Into The Blue and Soundtrack, and arranged music for Anthony Minghella’s film The Talented Mister Ripley, in which he also duetted with actor Matt Damon.
He has appeared on records by Sting and performed with an array of acclaimed musicians, including Sammy Davis Jnr, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Clark Terry and Stan Tracey.
Barker’s first work as Associate Composer, That Obscure Hurt, was premiered by the orchestra at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013, and took its inspiration from Benjamin Britten in his centenary year. This November Guy's second piece, A Soho Symphony, was premiered at the EFG London Jazz Festival and on Radio 3.
Associate Orchestra at Southbank Centre
The BBC Concert Orchestra was announced as Southbank Centre's new Associate Orchestra in late 2014, consolidating a relationship that has become an increasingly important part of Southbank Centre’s festival programme over recent years. Throughout 2013, the BBC Concert Orchestra was an Artistic Partner Orchestra for Southbank Centre’s award-winning The Rest Is Noise festival. The BBC CO builds upon this legacy in its new role of Associate Orchestra by opening Southbank Centre’s first major new festival of 2015, Changing Britain 1945–2015, with a series of concerts exploring music from the past 70 years. There will be a supporting programme of talks and events around the concerts, setting the music in context.