Founded in 1952 as a radio orchestra for performances of light and popular classics, the BBC Concert Orchestra has become one of Britain's leading orchestras, performing in concert, opera, and broadcasts.
It grew out of Stanford Robinson's BBC Opera Orchestra. Robinson remained as guest conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra when Gilbert Vinter was named permanent conductor in 1952. Vinter resigned the following year and Charles Mackerras was appointed to the position in March, 1954. In 1956, Vilem Tausky was named principal conductor, a position he held for ten years. Tausky's successors included Marcus Dods (1966 - 1970), Ashley Lawrence (1970 - 1989), Barry Wordsworth (1989-2006), and Keith Lockhart (from 2010). The orchestra has performed on the radio program "Friday Night Is Music Night" every week since 1953. For live performances, in 1972, the orchestra relocated from the Camden Theatre to its new home at the Hippodrome in North London. The orchestra also performs at the Royal Festival Hall in London and in regular tours throughout Britain, Europe, the United States, and the Far East. Its repertoire ranges from recording film music and accompanying pop singers to performing opera and symphonic works.