BBC Proms conductor Sir Andrew Davis dies aged 80

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By Noor Nanji
Culture reporter

The British conductor Sir Andrew Davis, who performed with many of the world’s finest orchestras, has died aged 80 from leukaemia.

Sir Andrew was one of the longest-serving chief conductors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

He was also a familiar face at the BBC Proms concerts in London, where he was noted for his humorous speeches.

His agent confirmed his death to BBC News, adding: “[He lived] a remarkable, rich, meaningful life.”

He added that many would celebrate Sir Andrew’s career “for a long time”.

Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms in 2000

Tributes for Sir Andrew have flooded in following the announcement of his death.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, the Royal Opera House wrote: “We are saddened to hear of the death of conductor Sir Andrew Davis.

“In a career spanning over five decades, he was the artistic leader of several of the world’s most distinguished opera and symphonic institutions including BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and Glyndebourne.”

Musician and conductor Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of Andrew Lloyd Webber, wrote on X: “Sad to learn of the death of Sir Andrew Davis. A great musician who was wonderful with his soloists.

“I treasure the memory of a lovely Delius Concerto in 2012 with Philharmonia Orchestra. RIP.”

The current chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, wrote on X: “Remembering with greatest respect and admiration everything Sir Andrew Davis did for music, and particularly for dear BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus over many decades.”

The director of BBC Proms, David Pickard, added that Sir Andrew’s enthusiasm for music “knew no bounds… All performances to cherish.”

Born in 1944 in Hertfordshire, Sir Andrew studied at the Royal College of Music and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar before taking up conducting.

He performed a wide range of repertoire ranging from contemporary to Baroque.

Sir Andrew conducted the Last Night of the Proms several times, and in 1992, delighted Promenaders by singing the traditional conductor’s speech to a Gilbert and Sullivan tune.

He also held international positions, including leading the Toronto and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.

He retired from the BBC in 2000 and subsequently moved with his wife to the United States, to take up the post of music director with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Sir Andrew remained in the US and died in Chicago.

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