City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces Lord Tony Hall as new Chair

After an extensive search the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has appointed Lord Hall of Birkenhead as its Chair, succeeding David Burbidge CBE who stands down after completing his successful five-year term of office.

Tony Hall – Lord Hall of Birkenhead – has held numerous executive and non-executive roles in the sector, including Director General of the BBC (2013-2020), Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House (2001-2013), and Managing Director, BBC News and Current Affairs (1989-2001). He is Chairman of the social work charity Frontline and is a crossbench member of the House of Lords, sitting on the Communications and Digital Committee. Lord Hall was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours for services to Opera and Ballet.

Tony Hall says “I am thrilled to be taking on the role of Chair of the CBSO. It’s an amazing world-class orchestra doing incredible work in a city I’ve known since I was at school there.

I’ve always believed that everyone should have access to the best – and I can see that’s what motivates the CBSO too. The school set-up in partnership with Shireland Collegiate Academy in Sandwell shows that the orchestra is doing truly groundbreaking work. I know – together – there’s so much more we can do to bring the best music to everyone in Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond.”

During David Burbidge’s time as Chair the CBSO has maintained its position as an internationally celebrated symphony orchestra, at home in Birmingham. As well as sustaining a wide-ranging programme of concerts at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall and far-reaching learning and participation activities, 2023 has seen the opening of the Shireland CBSO Academy, the first free, non-selective state school in Britain to be established in partnership with a professional orchestra.

David Burbidge CBE commented “It has been a privilege to have been Chair of the CBSO for five years. I have seen many wonderful concerts performed by our world-class orchestra in Birmingham and elsewhere in the UK, as well as joining the orchestra on several overseas tours including trips to Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonie. I have also seen the superb work bringing music into the lives of thousands of young people and we have now opened the ground-breaking Shireland CBSO Academy in the Black Country. Despite the problems of Covid, I leave the orchestra in good shape for the challenges and opportunities ahead and in very good hands under the leadership of our new CEO Emma Stenning and my immensely experienced successor, Tony Hall.”

Tony’s appointment completes the CBSO’s new triumvirate of leadership that will now take the company forward, following recent appointments of both a new Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor – Kazuki Yamada – and a new Chief Executive – Emma Stenning, marking an exciting new era in the orchestra’s history.

Emma Stenning, Chief Executive added “David has been an invaluable mentor and guide during my first months at the CBSO, and it has been immensely inspiring to see the strength of his bond to our players, staff and family of supporters. His remarkable leadership has steered the company through triumph, challenge and change, and we thank him from the bottom of our hearts.

I can’t wait to welcome Tony to the team. From our first conversation, his passion for music, commitment to learning and engagement, and excitement at what the CBSO can achieve, was palpable. I said from the start that we needed a Chair of vision, conviction, and fearlessness – someone who loves the music, and is simply unrelenting in their determination that it be for everyone. In Tony we have found that, and I can’t wait for us to start working together.”


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