The renowned Czech maestro Jiří Bělohlávek became chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in July 2006. Maestro Bělohlávek studied at the Prague Conservatoire and Arts Academy. He appears regularly with major orchestras including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Vienna Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Tokyo) and the Orchestre de Paris. In North America, he conducts the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Washington D.C., St Louis, Toronto and Minnesota. In his homeland, he was appointed president of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006.
Jiří Bělohlávek has been chief conductor of the Prague Symphony (1977–89) and music director of the Czech Philharmonic (1990–92), with whom he has recorded extensively for Chandos Records. He founded the Prague Philharmonia in 1994, and has recorded and toured extensively with this ensemble, including a televised appearance at the BBC Proms in July 2004. He was appointed principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in September 1995, immediately following his debut with the orchestra conducting The Epic of Gilgamesh by Martinů.