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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Charlotte McLaughlin

Anna-Maria Helsing named BBC Concert Orchestra’s first female chief conductor

Anna-Maria Helsing has been announced as the first female chief conductor of BBC Concert Orchestra.

The Finnish conductor, who was made principal guest conductor at the corporation’s orchestra in 2020, said she was “thrilled and very excited”.

She will officially become chief conductor on October 1 2023 and is contracted to be in the role until 2026.

Helsing said: “During our years together we have established a warm connection, which on my part makes working with this orchestra a true pleasure.

“In the years to come I would love to further expand the symphonic repertoire of the orchestra as well as presenting it to audiences outside of London.

“I have the greatest respect for this fine group of musicians and I look forward to us making a lot of fantastic music in the future.”

Helsing, who began her career as a violinist, previously served as the first female chief conductor of Finland’s Oulu Symphony Orchestra from 2010 to 2013.

Other conductors in roles at the BBC Concert Orchestra include Bramwell Tovey and Barry Wordsworth, who is currently conductor laureate, as well as Keith Lockhart.

Helsing, who is the artistic director of the chamber music festival Rusk in Jakobstad, Finland, will work closely with the BBC orchestra’s director, Bill Chandler.

Chandler said Helsing’s “deep connection” with the team along with her “superb music making” will mean the orchestra’s future “will be expertly led”.

He added: “Already the UK’s most versatile orchestra, Anna-Maria’s hope is to further expand the orchestra’s repertoire, and with her passion and her openness for connecting with new audiences in new ways, it promises to be a meaningful and dynamic musical relationship that will place the Concert Orchestra at the heart of the BBC’s vision to make exciting, relevant and impactful content.”

Helsing will next conduct the orchestra on Monday June 19 at Alexandra Palace for saxophone player Jess Gillam’s This Classical Life: Live!

The conductor is also set to take the lead at one of this year’s BBC Proms, where she will conduct soundtracks from film, TV and gaming in the Fantasy, Myths And Legends concert on August 28 at the Royal Albert Hall.

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