Sir Andrew Davis will step down from his role as Chief Conductor with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the end of his contract in December 2019, the Orchestra announced today. The British maestro, who has led the MSO since 2013, will continue his artistic relationship with the orchestra as Conductor Laureate.

“I first conducted the MSO in 2009 and fell in love with the orchestra immediately,” said Davis, who will have conducted in seven seasons with the MSO in 2019. “The five years during which I have been Chief Conductor have been some of the happiest of my life. It is a delight and an honour to work with this extraordinary group of brilliant and dedicated musicians.”

Sir Andrew Davis, MSO, Melbourne Symphony OrchestraSir Andrew Davis. Photo © Peter Tarasiuk

Davis, who is the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, has conducted and led musical organisations around the world, including 13 years as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (of which he is now Conductor Laureate), 12 years as Music Director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera, 13 years as Principal Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (of which he is now Conductor Laureate, and where he is interim Artistic Director from 2018 to 2020) as well as Conductor Emeritus with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Davis was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1992, and in 1999 was designated a Knight Bachelor in the New Year Honours List.

Under Davis’s baton the MSO toured Europe in 2014, the Orchestra making its debut performance at the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall as well as performing at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and at the Edinburgh Festival. In Melbourne, Davis has been exploring Mahler, in a cycle of the composer’s symphonies, as well as Charles Ives and Richard Strauss in a series of performances and recordings. His recording with the MSO of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony and Til Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks came out earlier this year on ABC Classics.

“We are honoured to have one of the most important classical music figures of today gracing our Hamer Hall stage,” said MSO Chairman Michael Ullmer. “Sir Andrew has a magical connection with the Orchestra which you can see through the inspiring performances and I’m thrilled that he will be returning to Melbourne after 2019 to perform with us in a new capacity.”

Davis will join the MSO next month to conduct Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and in June Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the world premiere of MSO Composer-in-Residence Carl Vine’s Eighth Symphony. The MSO is in the process of searching for a new Chief Conductor, with recruitment now underway.

“In the meantime, I look forward to two wonderful seasons of showing off the Orchestra to Melbourne and the world,” Davis said. “My decision to step down as Chief Conductor is not one I took lightly, but I do so happy in the knowledge that my relationship with the orchestra will continue in my new capacity as Conductor Laureate.”