In 2015, David assumed the position of Director of the BBC Proms, tasked with fulfilling the BBC’s mission, as articulated by Henry Wood, to bring the finest classical music to the widest audience possible. Throughout his tenure, he has broadened the scope of the Proms, reaching new audiences across the UK and enhancing the diversity of artists, composers, and collaborators.
This season marked several significant milestones, including the inaugural weekend-long Proms festival held outside London at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music in the North East of England. It also marked the first instance in Proms history where both the First Night and Last Night were conducted by women—Dalia Stasevska and Marin Alsop, respectively. The season itself gained widespread acclaim, showcasing a diverse range of classical music, from the UK premiere of György Kurtág’s opera “Endgame” and Aurora’s memorized performance of “The Rite of Spring” to concerts celebrating Northern Soul and Bollywood.
Under David’s leadership, the BBC Proms witnessed the debut of some of the world’s most exciting musicians and ensembles, including cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, soprano Lise Davidsen, Chineke! Orchestra, and the Sinfonia of London. He brought esteemed international orchestras, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Budapest Festival, and Boston Symphony Orchestras, to the Proms. Additionally, David oversaw BBC commissions from acclaimed living composers, including Thomas Adès, Hildur Guðnadóttir, George Benjamin, Hannah Kendall, and Judith Weir.
David also expanded the Proms programme to include multi-disciplinary projects, such as Anna Meredith’s “Five Telegrams,” featuring projections on the exterior of the Royal Albert Hall, and Glass/Handel at Printworks, incorporating music, dance, film, and soundscapes.
David Pickard says: “It has been an immense honour 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. 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.”
Sam Jackson, Controller of BBC Radio 3, says: “David has done a fantastic job as Director of the Proms and I thank him for all his hard work over the years. 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. I look forward to working with him again next year and giving him a proper send-off after the Last Night of the Proms.”
Before assuming his current role, David served as General Director of Glyndebourne for fourteen years and as Chief Executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for eight years.
The recruitment process for a senior leader to oversee the BBC Proms will commence in the new year.