An Interview with Kirill Karabits

With the concert season 16/17 now well underway, Kirill Karabits, the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor since 2008, recently spoke with Communications Intern Kerry-Ann to answer some questions about his profession, greatest achievements, and hobbies outside of the concert hall.

Q. What’s the best thing about being a conductor?

A. I think it’s the possibility of communication with so many people involved in the process. On one side you have the orchestra which you need to train in a certain way; and from the other side you have different audiences – every country, every venue has different audiences. Finding the balance between these is the most challenging and interesting thing. If you can create an excitement from the orchestra’s side and audiences enjoy it, then you are in the middle of this excitement. You get a lot of positive energy from both sides and it’s a fascinating feeling.

Q. What concerts are you particularly looking forward to conducting in the BSO 2016/17 season?

A. I look forward very much to working with Nemanja Radulović (pictured below), with Khachaturian’s violin concerto in December. I’m also looking forward to conducting Tchaikovsky’s Suite No.3 which will be new for audiences and the Orchestra as well. And I’m looking forward to working again with Guy Braunstein for Elgar’s Violin Concerto(1) and Valeriy Sokolov for Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto(2). Every programme is different and I look forward to all of them in a different way.


  1. Heart & Soul at Lighthouse, Poole Jan 18 and Great Hall, Exeter Jan 19
  2. Back in the USSR at Lighthouse, Poole Jan 25 and Guildhall, Portsmouth Jan 26

Q. What are your interests outside music?

A. How things are at the moment, I don’t have very much time to spend doing anything else seriously. But I do have hobbies – I like yoga and I like reading. I shouldn’t say I like travelling as it’s part of my profession but I like travelling and feel at home in many countries now.

Q. The Orchestra has just finished recording Walton’s Symphonies 1 & 2. Of the recordings you have made with the BSO, do you have a favourite?

A. It’s hard to say. I really enjoyed our recording of Korngold’s Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti – it was a very, very good recording. I think Walton’s symphonies will be a fantastic recording; we created a nice energy in the recording session. I haven’t heard it yet but I’m sure this will be one of our best – especially Symphony No.2 which is absolutely underrated. I hope we can open a new perspective for the performance of this great symphony.

Explore all of our recordings

Q. You have written the foreword to the new book celebrating the BSO and its achievements; during your time with the Orchestra, what do you feel has been the BSO’s greatest achievement?

A. From my perspective, the greatest achievement and most valuable for me is our relationship. I think and hope very much we respect each other still after 8 years of collaboration. I should mention another achievement is our relationship with our audiences, which we have created together. Now we can perform almost anything in Poole and audiences have trust. Eight years ago, Bruckner and Haydn were no-go’s with audiences; but now we have seen last week, the hall was full for Bruckner’s Symphony No.4. I think that’s a fantastic achievement. [Explore the symphony with Kirill as part of our Meet the Music series – below] Another great achievement and also a personal one, because I have done a lot to make this happen, is our approach to classical and early music. It is now performed on a totally different level and the musicians have a different understanding of that style.


Rebecca Wileman – Marketing Intern


2 thoughts on “An Interview with Kirill Karabits

  1. I came across an article about Kirill Karabits and the Bournmouth orchestra and wondered if we could be related. My family (grandparents and father) lived in Obelai, Lithuania and emigrated to South Africa in around 1910. Our surname is Karabus (maybe pronounced Karabuz in Russian) and, oddly enough, my first name is also Cyril! I am a paediarician.

    Is there any way of my contacting him to find out?

    Cyril David Karabus

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