New BBC Proms Director, David Pickard

Two classical music things resonated for me today.

The first, was the LSO’s Gareth Davies blog post ruminating about how Abbey Road Studios drips with heritage and why classical music execs constantly obsessing about reinventing the genre. Potent stuff. A point I happen to agree with.

The other thing was the announcement that David Pickard, he from OAE and Glyndebourne has taken on the BBC Proms crown. Norman Lebrecht described it as a “left-field appointment“. Charlotte Higgins warned that, “he will need all his patience, diplomatic skills and fighting spirit to survive – and enjoy – his new role.”

The Independent’s Jessica Duchen wrote, “Pickard needs to embrace the scale of vision for the Proms that Wright established. This means not only continuing the mission of bringing world-class classical music to the widest possible audiences. It also means doing so with a flair that can make events an experience to remember for a lifetime.”

“His conservatism may indicate that the BBC top brass would like to see a change of tack at the Proms, which has become increasingly gimmicky in recent seasons,” said Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph . “He is certainly a safe pair of hands: the question is whether he has any surprises up his sleeve.”

Pickard was one of a long list of people whose arts administration credentials helped sell the field as a potential job market to me and my contemporaries in 1994. Many of us the year I graduated looked to arts administration as a way of keeping the classical music dream afloat. One of our year ended up working for David Pickard at the OAE. She didn’t stick it out (not because of him or the band, more to do with not enjoying working and living in London). Pickard was one of the poster boys. And looking back on what the man has achieved and when (he took on Glyndebourne when he was the age I am now), I end up feeling confident, perhaps even invigorated, about the future.

What Pickard thinks of Gareth’s take on heritage and reinvention I’m not entirely sure. But, when I bump into the new Director in the BH lifts, I’ll be sure to ask. Somehow.

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