The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) today announces the appointment of Sarah Bardwell as its new Managing Director, who will join the Orchestra ahead of the 2024/5 season.

Andrew Storey, Chair of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said: “After a thorough international search and selection process, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is delighted to be welcoming Sarah to the RPO’s leadership team at a hugely exciting time in the Orchestra’s history. In recent years, the Orchestra has made significant progress in broadening and diversifying its audience, whilst furthering its artistic ambitions with Music Director, Vasily Petrenko. As the Executive Director of Britten Pears Arts – and with previous experience spanning Handel Hendrix House in London, the Royal Albert Hall and English National Opera – Sarah will bring to the RPO a proven track record and outstanding critical thinking. She displays leadership skills that are dynamic whilst also being engaging and fully inclusive – important qualities which reflect the RPO’s core mission. 

“The RPO Board, musicians and staff remain indebted to our outgoing Managing Director, James Williams, for his leadership, conviction and vision during an era of unprecedented change in the performing arts sector. James will leave the RPO at the end of the current season, allowing for a smooth transition with Sarah and supported by the wider RPO management team and the newly appointed Director of Artistic Planning & Partnerships, Tom Philpott. James leaves the RPO in a position of strength and we warmly welcome Sarah to the team, as we embark on our next chapter with confidence, unity and ambition.”

Sarah Bardwell, incoming Managing Director at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra comments: “I am excited to be joining the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as Managing Director and to be able to build on the incredible work that James Williams, his management team, the musicians and the staff have done over the last eight years. I am passionate about orchestral music and delight in the variety and quality of the work that the RPO undertakes on the concert platform, in the recording studio and in the areas of education and health. This is a vital and vibrant organisation and I am looking forward to working with the players, management, staff and supporters to continue the RPO’s mission to be a leading orchestra of excellence and inclusivity.”