Jiri Belohlavek named Chief Conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra


The BBC Symphony Orchestra, one of the world's great orchestras, has announced the name of its new Chief Conductor. It is Jiri Belohlavek, one of the most acclaimed Czech conductors, who is to replace the American Leonard Slatkin at the helm of the orchestra next year.

The fifty-eight-year-old Jiri Belohlavek is no newcomer to the BBC Symphony Orchestra as he was its Principal Guest Conductor between 1995 and 2000. Founder and Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia, Jiri Belohlavek studied at the Prague Conservatory and the Academy of Arts. He appears regularly with major orchestras around the world. Between 1977 and 1989 Jiri Belohlavek was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony and in 1990 to 1992 he stood at the helm of the Czech Philharmonic, the culmination of nine years of cooperation with the orchestra. Eva Sedlakova is the Philharmonic's managing director.

"Mr Belohlavek is, of course, the leading, I would say, maybe the best-known Czech conductor at the moment. He is a fantastic conductor. He comes to the Orchestra quite often as a regular conductor. It was last week he was here and we didn't know he would be appointed Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. So last time he was here last week and he conducted Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Requiem by Milan Slavicky which was a world premiere."

Jiri Belohlavek is one of the world's most respected conductors in the concert hall and in the opera house, and his wide repertoire illustrated by a rich and varied discography. In the 1990s he made 19 recordings of Czech classics for Chandos Records as well as the complete works of Johannes Brahms. Jiri Belohlavek is known as a great exponent of classical and romantic works, in particular Czech music. Eva Sedlakova is delighted at the latest news.

"Just congratulations! It's fantastic news - I read it this morning on the subway... Our congratulations!"

Jiri Belohlavek will take up the position of Chief Conductor officially at the First Night of the Proms 2006 and becomes Chief Conductor Designate until then.