The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is delighted to announce the appointment of James Williams as its new Managing Director. James Williams, currently Director, UK Programme and Creative Projects at Philharmonia Orchestra, will take up the post in the summer.

James’ previous achievements and experience within the orchestral sector will ensure the RPO continues to flourish at the forefront of music-making, offering world-class performances in both the UK and on the world-stage too. As the Orchestra celebrates its 70th Anniversary Year, the RPO’s versatility and high standards will thrive in a new era, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra proudly looks forward to the next 70 years.

Adam Wright (Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) says,

“I am thrilled about the prospect of James Williams becoming our new Managing Director. He has a wealth of knowledge in our sector and is brimming with fantastic ideas for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The Board and I are very much looking forward to working with James, to ensure the continued growth and development of the RPO and to build upon the success and legacy left behind by his predecessor, Ian Maclay."

James Williams says,

“As this wonderful orchestra celebrates its 70th Anniversary, it is a great privilege and responsibility entrusted in me by the Board to lead the RPO into its next phase. The RPO sits at the heart of British musical life via its London and UK Residency programmes, and I admire greatly the ability of the RPO’s players to inspire, excite and enrich the lives of thousands of people each week both on and off the concert platform.

“Under the inspiring leadership of Charles Dutoit (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor), the RPO continues to attract international recognition for its performances, each concert providing an extraordinary energy that is electrifying for players and audience alike. We now have a great responsibility to embed our relationships with audiences and stakeholders to share as widely as possible our life affirming music-making, which in turn will ensure that the RPO remains an indispensable part of the UK’s musical landscape.”

The musicians, management and administration team of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra would like to acknowledge the many successful years of support and service Ian Maclay has given to the Orchestra. Ian’s enthusiasm and insight have garnered much success for the RPO and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra wishes him all the best for the future.

Notes to editor

James Williams biography

James joined the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2008 as Director, UK Programme and Creative Projects. During his time at the Philharmonia, James has built the Orchestra’s highly acclaimed UK Residency programme (including Bedford, Leicester, Canterbury, Basingstoke and Three Choirs Festival) and developed further the Orchestra’s education and community engagement work in each region. In addition to leading the Orchestra’s commercial work on the concert platform and in the studio, James curates the Music of Today Series with Artistic Director Unsuk Chin and has introduced to London new programming initiatives such as the Philharmonia at the Movies film music series. James was Project Director for iOrchestra, a two-year ground-breaking audience development, education and digital project in the South West of England which engaged over 122,000 people with orchestral music via the Philharmonia’s digital and live performance platforms.

James is a Board member for Kent Music (Kent’s Music Education Hub) and sits on the advisory group for Live Music Now, London. Prior to joining the Philharmonia Orchestra, James worked in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music as part of the conservatoire’s programming team.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra biography

In 2016, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) celebrates 70 years at the forefront of music-making in the UK. Its home base since 2004 at London’s Cadogan Hall serves as a springboard for fourteen residencies across the country, often in areas where access to live orchestral music is very limited. With a wider reach than any other UK large ensemble, the RPO has truly become Britain’s national orchestra. 

Read the full biography

Contact information

For further comments or information, please contact Chris Evans (Director of Press and Marketing, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra). Telephone: 020 7608 8836 | Mobile: 07702 210074 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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