BBC Music Magazine
Wellber appointed to BBC Phil
Israeli maestro to be ensemble’s new chief conductor
Omer Meir Wellber has been named as the new chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic. The 36-year-old Israeli, widely regarded as one of today’s most exciting young conductors, succeeds Juanjo Mena, who rounded o his eight years in the post at the Proms this summer.
Wellber will arrive in Manchester in September 2019 clutching an impressive CV. Recently appointed principal conductor at the Semperoper Dresden, he is also set to make his debut at the New York Met this season with Bizet’s Carmen. In October, the Bridgewater ★all audience had a glimpse of the treats in store when Wellber conducted the BBC Phil in performances of Mozart and Wagner that the Guardian described as ‘exceptionally beautiful’ and ‘spine-tingling’.
‘I first met the BBC Philharmonic in March and worked with them for two or three days,’ he tells BBC Music Magazine. ‘We had a really great time working on ★aydn and Shostakovich, and I got to know them well enough to know that I want to be with them for the next few years. As a conductor, I have certain ideas about producing sound and how an orchestra should balance itself. They engaged very easily with my ideas and I also got the feeling that they were enjoying the process of putting them into action.’
Born in Be’er Sheva, Wellber studied conducting and composition at the Jerusalem Music Academy before a career that has seen him work as assistant to Daniel Barenboim in Berlin and Milan and, in 2009, take up the post of music director at the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra, founded to help Jewish immigrants integrate into Israeli society.
★is two predecessors at the BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda and Mena, won acclaim for introducing comparatively unknown Italian and Spanish composers to listeners, both in concert and in the studio. Wellber himself says he has similar plans: ‘I have a lot to introduce that I think will be interesting. In Israel, we have a whole generation of immigrant composers, including Paul Ben-haim and Noam Sheri . Ben-haim’s First Symphony, for instance, is basically like Mahler in terms of instrumentation and structure, but all the musical themes are Bedouin ones. When listeners hear it, they will be amazed.’