End of an era: Alan Davey to step down at BBC Radio 3 and Proms

One of the most influential figures in the UK classical and art music community, Alan Davey, is to step down after eight years at the helm of BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms, and BBC Orchestras and Choirs. He will leave the Corporation in March 2023.

Davey has been in the post since January 2015, during which time he has consolidated Radio 3’s audience at more than 2 million weekly listeners. His tenure has also seen a number of themed seasons across Radio 3 – including 2015’s Northern Lights, which used Sibelius’ 150th birthday as an inspiration for a season of Nordic music. Then there was 2021’s Capturing Twilight, which explored the connections between dusk and music.

The outgoing controller has also been an enthusiastic champion of new music and emerging voices. He has helped to grow Radio 3’s successful New Generation Artists Scheme, which nurtures young talent and offers broadcast opportunities to artists just starting out in music. The scheme saw its highest-ever number of participants in 2021.

Davey’s tenure has also generated a range of programmes aimed at increasing access to both contemporary music and to the work of smaller venues. These have included Open Ear, Exposure and The New Music Show. There has been a focus, too, on works and composers that may not have had their due in the past: for example, the BBC’s Orchestras and Choirs have focused on unfairly-forgotten works. The Proms, meanwhile, committed to programming 50 per cent female composers by 2022. Radio 3 and the Proms have commissioned a wide range of new works under Davey’s leadership. These have included works from composers ranging from Harrison Birtwistle to Anna Thorvaldsdottir.

Davey said: “There is nothing like the combination of Radio 3, the Proms and the BBC Orchestras and Choirs anywhere else. Choosing when to move on is always tricky, but now is the time for me to hand over the role to someone else.

“Since Radio 3’s first day of broadcasting, it has known that the key to securing the future of music is in finding new talent and offering ways in to new audiences. On Radio 3 we play over whole 17,000 pieces of music a year and explore thousands more. We believe the greatest public service is found in showing, not just telling, of the riches of the arts. It has been an honour and a delight to lead this mission”.

Davey plans to continue his work supporting arts and music organisations and to pursue his academic interests. The BBC will announce his successor in due course.