BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) has today announced the appointment of Ryan Bancroft as its new Principal Conductor from September 2020.
Winner of the prestigious Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen last year (both First Prize and the Audience Prize), Californian conductor Ryan Bancroft is one of the most exciting musicians of his generation. He first worked with BBC NOW in November 2018, conducting Beethoven and Weber, around Wales and returned in May to conduct a wide-ranging contemporary programme as part of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival and a studio recording of Sibelius’ fifth symphony.
Bancroft joins BBC NOW for an initial three years, together with Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka, who extends his contract with BBC NOW for a further three years, and Composer-in-Association Huw Watkins.
Ryan Bancroft says: ‘I am beyond grateful to the extraordinary artists and staff at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for their warm welcome. My passion is for the people who play music and the audiences who love it. That puts me in excellent company here in Wales. Our recipe for spellbinding performances combines our unique sounds and stories with equal parts collaboration, growth and vision. BBC NOW musicians know exactly how to craft inspiring concert thrills with these ingredients. We’re guaranteed to share unforgettable moments together with our audiences. What’s most exciting is that we’re just getting started!’
Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales, says “I’m just thrilled to welcome Ryan Bancroft to Wales and to the BBC. He’s a remarkable young talent and I can’t wait to see how his partnership with our national orchestra and chorus develops. We've been lucky enough to work with Ryan already over the last year– and those intense, fluid performances underlined what a rare talent he is. I’ve no doubt his appointment as Principal Conductor with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales opens an exciting new chapter for music in Wales and beyond.”
Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms and the BBC Orchestras and Choirs says “It’s wonderful to welcome Ryan to the BBC musical and orchestral family and to the National Orchestra of Wales in particular. This will be a tremendous opportunity for him and this fine Orchestra to explore what an orchestra can be in the 21st century, and to bring some exciting music making to the people of Wales, as well as represent Wales nationally and internationally. As a key part of the Radio 3 schedule and the Proms we look forward to some exciting concerts and broadcasts and pushing the envelope of musical excellence to new heights. This is a fantastic appointment and we look forward to working with Ryan to make great things happen.”
Bancroft was born in Los Angeles, where he studied trumpet at the California Institute of the Arts, alongside additional studies in harp, flute, cello and Ghanaian music and dance. He went on to study conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has conducted the Stockholm Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, Netherlands Philharmonic and Het Gelders Orkest amongst others, and is a strong advocate of new music, having assisted Pierre Boulez in a performance of his Sur Incises in Los Angeles and premiered works by composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, John Cage and Anne LeBaron. (See full biography below.)
As Principal Conductor, Bancroft will absorb himself in every aspect of BBC NOW’s wide-reaching schedule, with concerts in Cardiff, Swansea, at the BBC Proms, and at a range of festivals in Wales and beyond. He will share his passion for contemporary music, and work with BBC NOW’s award winning learning programme. Before formally starting in his new role, Bancroft will return next May in BBC NOW’s Cardiff and Swansea subscription seasons, conducting two ballet scores Debussy’s Jeux and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Ives’ Central Park in the Dark and the world premiere of Sir Karl Jenkins’ Stravaganza, a commission for saxophonist Jess Gillam and BBC NOW (6 May 2020, Swansea and 7 May 2020, Cardiff).
Following the illuminating world premiere of Huw Watkins’ The Moon at the BBC Proms this year, Tadaaki Otaka will continue as Conductor Laureate for a further three years, returning to conduct BBC NOW in three concerts next year: Missa Solemnis (5 June 2020, Cardiff) and a programme of Mahler and Korngold (18 June 2020, Cardiff and 19 June 2020, Swansea). Otaka joined the orchestra as Principal Conductor in 1987 and helped to establish BBC NOW on the international stage with visits to East Germany and Japan during his tenure. He became Conductor Laureate in 1996 and his friendship with BBC NOW has continued for over thirty years.
BBC NOW’s 2019-20 season launches at the end of September and features epic orchestral and choral masterworks, exploratory new concert formats, rediscovered gems, and invigorating contemporary music. Highlights include Classical Playlist: LIVE, a new concert format which offers an alternative way to experience classical music; concerts marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth; CoLaboratory, a strand of performances in which BBC NOW invite musicians from difference genres to collaborate with them; choral masterworks including Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s St Matthew Passion; and a number of Welsh collaborations, including folk group Calan and a special concert marking the 50th anniversary of seminal Welsh record label Recordiau Sain.
For more information about BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales visit bbc.co.uk/bbcnow.