Simon Webb is today announced as the BBC’s first Head of Orchestras and Choirs. Simon has been Director of the BBC Philharmonic since 2014 and has substantial experience working in management and leadership roles across the UK’s orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was elected chair of the board of directors for four years, and also the CBSO where he served as Director of Orchestral Management. In 2020 Simon was elected Chair of the Association of British Orchestras. Simon began his career as a cellist, working in orchestras across the UK, Portugal, Hong Kong and Ireland.

The position of Head of Orchestras and Choirs was created following the BBC’s classical music review, examining the BBC’s role in the classical music ecology in the UK. With our renewed purpose – Great Music for Everyone – the BBC’s ensembles play a crucial part in bringing world-class classical music to the widest possible audience, and Simon will provide strategic direction to lead and shape this key part of the BBC’s activity.

Simon will develop a creative strategy for the BBC Orchestras and Choirs, create an ambitious education and outreach programme, and lead on the work to innovate and develop future audiences. He will identify and develop partnerships, both internally and externally across the UK, and together with Controller, Radio 3 and BBC Proms, maximise opportunities for new, emerging and diverse talent, and play a leading role in developing a fully inclusive sector.

Based in Salford, Simon will be directly responsible for the English ensembles and support the leadership and creative direction for the Nations’ orchestras, maximising the impact of the BBC’s classical activity across the UK.

Lorna Clarke, BBC’s Director of Music says:

‘The BBC plays a unique and vital role in the classical music world, both in the UK and internationally, and I’m hugely proud of that. As we look ahead to the future and hope to refine and strengthen our public purpose to deliver the best quality music to the widest possible audiences, I am thrilled Simon joins us as our new Head of Orchestras and Choirs, a key member of the BBC Music team.’

Simon Webb says:

‘The BBC Orchestras and Choirs fulfil a unique and valuable role within the UK orchestral sector. They are internationally recognised for the excellence of their performances on-air, online and in venues across the UK, for their education work and the value they bring as partners both within the BBC and beyond. I am delighted to be taking on this new role that further reinforces the importance of the BBC’s orchestras and choirs in the BBC and in the wider classical music ecology.’

Simon Webb begins as Head of Orchestras and Choirs in January 2023.

Read the full report on the BBC’s role in the classical music ecosystem by BOP consulting, published May 2022, here: