The LPO announces a restructuring of its leadership

London Philharmonic Orchestra announces the retirement of Timothy Walker after 17 years in dual role of Chief Executive & Artistic Director; restructuring plans for the senior administration and the appointment of David Burke as Chief Executive

The London Philharmonic Orchestra today announced the retirement of its Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Timothy Walker, and a restructuring of its leadership with the roles of Chief Executive and Artistic Director split into two distinct positions.

This new division of the roles of Chief Executive and Artistic Director is the result of considered analysis by the Board consisting of Player and Non-Player directors which concluded that the roles of Chief Executive and Artistic Director require distinct leadership to best meet the complex needs of a major arts organisation in the 21st century. David Burke, currently the Orchestra’s General Manager and Finance Director, becomes Chief Executive as planned in the restructure, and a search committee is being formed to appoint a new Artistic Director, ensuring seamless continuity.

The Board began its deliberations on the restructuring process two years ago when Walker indicated he would step down on his 65th birthday. It was anticipated that Timothy Walker would continue to lead the Orchestra as the Artistic Director while David Burke would be promoted to become its Chief Executive. However, on reflection over the Christmas period, Timothy Walker decided to retire from his position of Chief Executive and Artistic Director as originally planned for personal and private reasons. He will leave the company on 3 June 2020.

Over the last 17 years, Timothy Walker has led the LPO to a position of undisputed international strength and high regard for its innovative and creative programming, strong administrative team and clarity of purpose in its education and community work. He will be much missed by the entire organisation. 

Burke has written and delivered the Orchestra’s last three business plans setting strategic aims and objectives covering all areas of its operations. Over the past years Burke worked closely with Walker to create a strong partnership that built strength for the future in many areas. By ensuring robust finances and creating exceptional programming they have enabled the LPO to fund and present ambitious projects such as Wagner’s Ring Cycle and festivals such as The Rest is Noise and 2020 Vision.

Passionate about issues concerning diversity and access, Burke has played a significant role in developing the Orchestra’s work in these areas throughout the organisation, as well as leading the organisation on widening audiences domestically and internationally, creating performance opportunities with new partners, and enabling the Orchestra to focus on digital creativity in order to enhance its core activity.

Victoria Robey OBE, Chairman of the LPO Board & Martin Hoehmann, President, commented:

"The London Philharmonic Orchestra has long been recognised as an innovative and forward-facing organisation with distinctive and adventurous programming. We have been fortunate for 17 years to have had Tim’s strong leadership and internationally acclaimed artistic creativity at the forefront of our Orchestra. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for his loyalty and his passion to drive the London Philharmonic Orchestra to ever greater achievements. We wish him well for the future. Equally, it is with great confidence that we welcome David Burke to the role of Chief Executive following on from his outstanding contributions as both General Manager and Finance Director over the last decade. Together, we will search across the widest international spectrum for an exceptional talent to take on the Artistic Director role. With David's leadership, we look forward to continuing to build an exciting and secure future for the LPO to share with our audiences worldwide.”

Timothy Walker CBE AM, commented:

“It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this remarkable company. I wish to thank the players, board and management as well as our audiences, funders and donors for their tremendous support and adventurous open-mindedness as we shared our creative programming at home and abroad. I have been fortunate to have had many hugely rewarding relationships during this time including with the Chair, Victoria Robey OBE, our Principal Conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, many of the generous and talented players of the orchestra, as well as Guest Conductors and so many wonderful artists. It is with confidence, however, that I retire knowing that I leave this exciting artistic organisation in the excellent hands of Edward Gardner and David Burke.”

David Burke commented:

“I am honoured to become Chief Executive of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It has been my pleasure to get to know this amazingly talented group of musicians and staff over the last decade. I care deeply about sharing their brilliance with as wide an audience as possible. I also want to pass on my personal thanks to Tim. The orchestra is in such a great place due to the care and commitment he has shown throughout his time with us. With so much good work being created by the LPO in concert halls, in the community and digitally, I’m excited to build on the work already done to further inspire both audiences and future musicians.”

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As General Manager and Finance Director of the LPO, since November 2009, Burke has been responsible for ensuring the smooth day to day running of the orchestra, leading on special projects and all financial, personnel and administrative issues. He has worked closely with Timothy Walker, the Board, musicians and other staff to contribute to the Orchestra’s successes over these years. 

Deeply committed to issues of diversity and inclusion, Burke has played an active role in the Orchestra’s work in these areas co-chairing the Orchestra’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, which has influenced future programming as well as specific initiatives such as LPO Junior Artists, recruitment initiatives and targeted marketing campaigns.

Burke has led on several partnerships include the co-production of Sukanya with the Royal Opera House, chamber tours to Brazil, Botswana and Sicily with Belmond Hotels and the Orchestra’s debut at London Fashion Week with British designer Richard Quinn.

Prior to joining the LPO, David was Director of Administration and Finance at English Touring Opera  where he produced 14 tours including their first Baroque and Handel festivals, establishing the Autumn tours with their distinctive artistic voice. This was preceded by experience with his own company running festivals, tours and chamber ensembles in the UK and Europe.

David was awarded a BA in Management and Music from the University of London by special consent – the first of its kind – and an MBA from the Open University.  He is a Visiting Lecturer in Orchestral Management for the MA in Music Management at Danube University in Krems, Austria and has guest lectured at Royal Holloway University of London and University of East Anglia.  He is a trustee of English Touring Opera, having previous sat on the boards of Clod Ensemble and Opera Music Theatre Form.   


One of the finest orchestras on the international stage, the London Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham. Since then, its Principal Conductors have included Sir Adrian Boult, Bernard Haitink, Sir Georg Solti, Klaus Tennstedt and Kurt Masur. In 2007 Vladimir Jurowski became the Orchestra’s Principal Conductor and he will be succeeded by Edward Gardner in September 2021.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has been performing at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall since it opened in 1951, becoming Resident Orchestra in 1992. It also has residencies in Brighton and Eastbourne, and performs regularly around the UK, including over 50 years as resident orchestra at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The London Philharmonic Orchestra continues to be in demand around the world and gives around 35 concerts each year overseas.

The Orchestra broadcasts regularly on television and radio and has recorded soundtracks for numerous films including The Lord of the Rings. In 2005 it began releasing live, studio and archive recordings on its own CD label. The London Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to inspiring the next generation of musicians. In 2017/18 the LPO celebrated its 30th anniversary of their Education and Community department, whose work over three decades has introduced so many people of all ages to orchestral music and created opportunities for people of all backgrounds to fulfil their creative potential. Highlights include the BrightSparks schools’ concerts and FUNharmonics family concerts; the LPO Young Composers programme; the Foyle Future Firsts orchestral training programme; and the LPO Junior Artists scheme for talented young musicians from communities and backgrounds currently under-represented in professional UK orchestras.