Roger Wright, controller of Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms, is to leave the BBC at the beginning of the Proms season in July to become chief executive of Aldeburgh Music.
The BBC said that recruitment for the posts would begin ‘in due course’, with no indication as to whether they would or would not continue to be done by one person (responsibilities for the Proms and Radio 3 & Performing Groups having at times in the past been separated). Wright will join Aldeburgh Music in ‘early September’.
Wright became controller of Radio 3 in 1998 and took on the Proms brief from Sir Nicholas Kenyon in 2007. He has worked across the domestic and international classical music industry, having held roles at the British Music Information Centre, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and as vice president, artists and repertoire, at Deutsche Grammophon from 1992 to 1998.
Wright said he was ‘honoured to have been invited to lead Aldeburgh Music at such an exciting time in its development. However, I am sorry to be leaving the BBC, having enjoyed such a long and fulfilling period at Radio 3 and the BBC Proms, and with the arts due to be such a key part of its immediate future under Tony Hall’s leadership. I am fortunate indeed to have been able to work with fantastically creative and hard-working colleagues.’
An early BBC press release stated that Wright would be leaving the BBC in September but a spokesperson told CM he would be with the BBC ‘up to the first night [of the Proms]’.
Wright will take over at Aldeburgh from Johnathan Reekie, who will become director of Somerset House in London from 7 April, a move which was announced in late 2013.
Tony Hall, BBC director-general, said: ‘Over the last 15 years Roger has made a huge contribution to the BBC, through the success of both Radio 3 and seven seasons of the Proms. He has been a fantastic champion of classical music across the BBC and has raised the profile of the Proms every year. We wish him well at Aldeburgh Music and will be looking to build on his achievements at Radio 3 and the Proms.’
Helen Boaden, director of BBC Radio, said: ‘Roger is a unique and brilliant talent. In the 15 years he has spent as Controller of Radio 3 and seven seasons he has led the BBC Proms he has displayed an unwavering commitment to quality, courage in introducing new kinds of music and developing exciting collaborations, and massive ambition on behalf of audiences.
‘He has driven the distinctiveness of Radio 3 by developing a unique blend of music and speech programming, and creating special events like the Free Thinking Festival. He is one of a kind and we are going to miss him hugely but wish him every success in his wonderful new job.’
Simon Robey, chairman of the Council of Aldeburgh Music said: ‘Roger knows and loves Aldeburgh Music and understands its particular place in the artistic and wider life of its region, as well as its national and international role. He will bring an exceptional breadth and depth of experience to all we do. I am confident that, building on the remarkable achievements of his predecessor, Jonathan Reekie, he will lead Aldeburgh Music to even greater heights. I am very excited about the future of this extraordinary place.’
Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: ‘Aldeburgh Music plays a vital role in the arts in East Anglia, as well as nationally and internationally. It’s wonderful that Roger, an arts leader of vision and of huge international standing, is taking over as Chief Executive. Roger understands both artists and audiences, is not afraid to challenge, and to take us to unexpected places. I look forward to continuing our partnership to bring great music and art to East Anglia and to the world.’
Classical Music has recently been debating some of the issues around Radio 3, with articles by Richard Steinitz and Andrew Green and their resulting correspondence from readers here. Together these articles provide some context as to the various issues with which Wright’s successor, at least at Radio 3, will be involved.