Kirill Karabits with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra ©Corin Messer

  • Kirill Karabits has been recognised with an Honorary OBE by His Majesty The King for Services to Music and the promotion of symphonic works from Ukraine and eastern Europe in the UK
  • Karabits, who this season concludes a remarkable 15-year tenure at the helm, becomes the BSO’s Conductor Laureate & Artistic Director, Voices from the East this October
  • His closing chapter as the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor is celebrated with a series of events at Lighthouse, Poole, London’s Southbank Centre, and Bristol Beacon throughout spring

Kirill Karabits’ 15-year tenure with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will be remembered for a series of definitive and premiere performances of symphonic music from his native Ukraine and beyond. Having shared over 60 works from eastern Europe and central Asia, Karabits’ impact on the British music scene has today [21 March] been recognised with an Honorary OBE.


With a clear and ongoing mission to share the symphonic treasures of his native Ukraine and beyond, Kirill Karabits — the son of composer Ivan Karabits (1945-2002) — has performed music from his homeland for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s audiences in the South West of England since 2009.

In recognition of his impact on the UK’s music scene, Karabits has been awarded an Honorary OBE for Services to Music and the promotion of symphonic works from Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the UK.

The Voices from the East series has featured works from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Macedonia, Poland, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine — and has included recordings, broadcasts, live performances, and newly commissioned music. Many of the works fuse folk elements with the western symphonic tradition, enlightening listeners to distant musical landscapes — and, in 2021, The Times declared that: “music lovers in Dorset may now be the most knowledgeable in the western world about the symphonic pieces of eastern Europe and central Asia.” 

Kirill Karabits, Chief Conductor of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, said: “I am deeply grateful to receive this Honorary OBE for the journey I have been privileged to share with the BSO’s musicians and audiences over the past 15 years — I’m deeply proud of what we have achieved together. I look forward to celebrating the Voices from the East series with our performances in Bristol, Poole, and London this spring, and to continuing our journey when I become Conductor Laureate & Artistic Director, Voices from the East, later this year.”


Dougie Scarfe OBE DL, Chief Executive of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
, said:
“We are thrilled that Kirill’s impact on the UK’s musical landscape has been recognised with an Honorary OBE. He is a musical detective unlike any other and it has been an adventure to explore this music, which has included new commissions and discoveries of lesser-known symphonic pieces. The recognition of Kirill’s impact is further evidence of music’s ability to open our minds to new places and spaces — and we look forward to continuing the journey.”

Karabits becomes Conductor Laureate & Artistic Director, Voices from the East later this year. His tenure as Chief Conductor is celebrated with a series of events at: Lighthouse, Poole [1-15 May]; London’s Southbank Centre [19 May]; and Bristol Beacon [7 June].

In Poole, highlights include Tchaikovsky’s rarely performed last opera, Iolanta [8 May], and music by Ivan Karabits, Giya Kancheli and Mily Balakirev [1 May], ahead of closing the season with Shostakovich’s all-encompassing Fifth Symphony [15 May] in a programme that also features works by Bartók and Prokofiev.

In London, Karabits conducts three symphonic concerts in a day-long festival celebrating Voices from the East discoveries at the Southbank Centre [19 May]. The performances each cover a different region — the first with music from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the second Georgia and Armenia, before concluding with Ukraine. Karabits then closes Bristol Beacon’s inaugural orchestral season [7 June] with music by Karayev, Korngold, and Dvořák.