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About the Orchestra

Find out all about BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Fact title Fact data
BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
Principal Guest Conductor:
Xian Zhang
Huw Watkins

For 90 years, BBC National Orchestra of Wales has been at the heart of the cultural landscape of Wales, and occupying a distinctive role as both broadcast and national symphony orchestra. It performs a busy schedule of concerts throughout Wales and the rest of the UK, led by its artistic team of Principal Guest Conductor Xian Zhang, Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka and Composer-in-Association Huw Watkins. Part of BBC Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, the Orchestra is an ambassador for Welsh music, championing contemporary composers and musicians. The orchestra also works closely with BBC National Chorus of Wales, one of the leading large mixed choruses in the UK.

The orchestra’s performances can be heard regularly across the BBC, on Radio 3, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. BBC NOW performs biennially at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and annually at the BBC Proms, where last year’s included Shostakovich’s first violin concerto with Nicola Benedetti, the European premiere of James MacMillan’s A European Requiem and the world premiere of Brian Elias’ Cello Concerto performed by Leonard Elschenbroich. Building on its ground-breaking work with special educational needs schools and Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing adults and children, BBC NOW performed the first ever Relaxed Prom in 2017, which won the 2018 Fantastic for Families Award for Best Family Event.

Highlights of the 2018/19 season will see the orchestra perform alongside the BBC National Chorus of Wales for the first complete performance of Stanford’s Mass Via Victrix (1914-1918), Britten’s War Requiem with Mark Wigglesworth and Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ with Sir Andrew Davis, plus premieres by Paul Mealor and Jonathon Dove. Summer 2018 sees performances at festivals in Aldeburgh, Lichfield and St Davids, a three concert residency at Cheltenham Music Festival, and their first concerts specifically aimed at younger children, ‘Cyw a'r Gerddorfa’ (Cyw and the Orchestra) for S4C as part of the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

In December 2018, BBC NOW will tour to four cities in China with Principal Guest Conductor Xian Zhang, working with the British Council in China as part of their Inspiring Women in the Arts campaign. As part of its extensive tour to South America In 2015 as the orchestra visited the Welsh colony in Patagonia where musicians worked in schools and with the community as part of the Patagonia 150 celebrations.

The Orchestra’s home is BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff Bay, where BBC NOW continues its work as one of the UK’s foremost soundtrack orchestra recording music for Doctor Who, War and Peace, Hollow Crown and David Attenborough’s Life Story. Recent television performances include the BBC Four series, Tunes for Tyrants presented by Suzy Klein and Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience: Classical Musician. Other recent collaborations have seen the orchestra work with Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) on his new album Babelsburg, with a performance at Festival of Voice in Wales Millennium Centre, as well as Richard James (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) and Cian Ciarán (Super Furry Animals).

Who's who

Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales KG KT PC GCB

View the full Orchestra List

BBC Hoddinott Hall

The Orchestra's relationship with Alun Hoddinott is enshrined within what has been the most important development for the Orchestra during the current decade: the move into BBC Hoddinott Hall in January 2009, situated in Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

Probably one of the most sophisticated orchestral rehearsal and studio provisions in Britain, the hall is primarily a rehearsal and recording studio, but also provides the opportunity to give concerts to audiences of around 350.

The Hall also includes sophisticated facilities for outreach work. The Grace Williams Studio, which can hold up to 60 people, hosts workshops and rehearsals acting as a centre for the Orchestra and Chorus's acclaimed outreach work.

Joining the Orchestra

Positions within the Orchestra are extremely competitive and are subject to auditions and a trial period. Orchestral vacancies are advertised on Musical Chairs. Successful applicants will be asked to attend an audition. Management vacancies are advertised on the BBC Careers Hub website.

For further information about auditions and trials please email

Get in touch

  • Tel: 0800 052 1812
  • Fax: 0292 055 9721
  • Email: