Winner of the prestigious Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen last year (both First Prize and the Audience Prize), Californian conductor Ryan Bancroft is one of the most exciting musicians of his generation. He first worked with BBC NOW in November 2018, conducting Beethoven and Weber, around Wales and returned in May to conduct a wide-ranging contemporary programme as part of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival and a studio recording of Sibelius’ fifth symphony.
Bancroft joins BBC NOW for an initial three years, together with Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka, who extends his contract with BBC NOW for a further three years, and Composer-in-Association Huw Watkins.
Bancroft said on his appointment:
I am beyond grateful to the extraordinary artists and staff at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for their warm welcome. My passion is for the people who play music and the audiences who love it. That puts me in excellent company here in Wales. Our recipe for spellbinding performances combines our unique sounds and stories with equal parts collaboration, growth and vision. BBC NOW musicians know exactly how to craft inspiring concert thrills with these ingredients. We’re guaranteed to share unforgettable moments together with our audiences. What’s most exciting is that we’re just getting started!
Bancroft was born in Los Angeles, where he studied trumpet at the California Institute of the Arts, alongside additional studies in harp, flute, cello and Ghanaian music and dance. He went on to study conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has conducted the Stockholm Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, Netherlands Philharmonic and Het Gelders Orkest amongst others, and is a strong advocate of new music, having assisted Pierre Boulez in a performance of his Sur Incises in Los Angeles and premiered works by composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina, John Cage and Anne LeBaron. (See full biography below.)
As Principal Conductor, Bancroft will absorb himself in every aspect of BBC NOW’s wide-reaching schedule, with concerts in Cardiff, Swansea, at the BBC Proms, and at a range of festivals in Wales and beyond. He will share his passion for contemporary music, and work with BBC NOW’s award winning learning programme. Before formally starting in his new role, Bancroft will return next May in BBC NOW’s Cardiff and Swansea subscription seasons, conducting two ballet scores Debussy’s Jeux and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Ives’ Central Park in the Dark and the world premiere of Sir Karl Jenkins’ Stravaganza, a commission for saxophonist Jess Gillam and BBC NOW (6 May 2020, Swansea and 7 May 2020, Cardiff).
Following the illuminating world premiere of Huw Watkins’ The Moon at the BBC Proms this year, Tadaaki Otaka will continue as Conductor Laureate for a further three years, returning to conduct BBC NOW in three concerts next year: Missa Solemnis (5 June 2020, Cardiff) and a programme of Mahler and Korngold (18 June 2020, Cardiff and 19 June 2020, Swansea). Otaka joined the orchestra as Principal Conductor in 1987 and helped to establish BBC NOW on the international stage with visits to East Germany and Japan during his tenure. He became Conductor Laureate in 1996 and his friendship with BBC NOW has continued for over thirty years.
Wales Arts Review’s News Service is supported by: