ABO/Rhinegold Awards 2016

The fifth annual ABO/Rhinegold Awards again honour the ‘backstage heroes’ of the classical music industry by naming an orchestra manager, concert hall manager, and artist manager of the year. The awards are presented annually at the ABO conference dinner, along with the ABO Award.  The winners will be profiled by Classical Music magazine during the course of 2016.

Classical Music editor Kimon Daltas said: “It is an absolute pleasure to have this opportunity to honour our colleagues who labour tirelessly behind the scenes getting things done and keeping the industry running. We are grateful to the ABO for welcoming us to their conference for the past five years and look forward to continuing this partnership for many more to come.”

The ABO is the national body representing the collective interests of professional orchestras, youth ensembles and the wider classical music industry throughout the UK.   Its annual conference this year in Birmingham, hosted by the CBSO, focuses on 'place makers' and takes a look at the role that culture plays in creating places where people want to live, work and visit. 


Concert Hall Manager of the Year

Angela Dixon, Chief Executive, Saffron Hall

Orchestra Manager of the Year

Sarah Alexander, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Artist Manager of the Year

Alasdair Tait, Chief Executive of the Young Concert Artists Trust


ABO/Rhinegold Concert Hall Manager of the Year Award

Asked why she gave up a prestigious role as Head of Music at the Barbican to run a new school hall in Essex, Angela Dixon said simply, “Why wouldn’t you?”

Because Saffron Hall is unique: an award-winning 740-seat performance space built for £10m from a charitable trust in the grounds of Saffron Walden County High School, a state comprehensive. And her management of the venue since she became its chief executive in March 2014 has won her the ABO/Rhinegold award as concert hall manager of the year.

 When she left to join Saffron Hall Angela Dixon, a music graduate of London University, had been at the Barbican for 14 years, working her way up through the music department to become its head in 2011.  The hall’s critically acclaimed acoustic and state-of-the-art facilities surpass many of the world’s more established venues and since the hall opened in November 2013, artists including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Maxim Vengerov, Penguin Cafe, Nicola Benedetti, Courtney Pine and the Sixteen have performed on its stage. Coming up are CBSO with Benedetti, the LPO celebrating Roald Dahl’s centenary with his BFG, the English Concert, and Sir Andras Schiff.

But Angela’s rare balancing act has to see the hall as both an international venue and as a community hall that also serves an educational establishment, so that her programming of the hall interlaces these stars with local amateur musicians and young performers. Although half the audience come from over 20 minutes drive away, there is a heavy local presence, she says: “We therefore have to think about programming across a range of classical music because we are a symphonic hall and chamber hall.  We have attracted a lot of people who haven't attended concerts for years, or indeed ever, so I have to remember that a Beethoven symphony can be a revelatory as a new work by Oliver Knussen to those people”.  

With a turnover of £1-1.2m, funding is from box office and revenue support from the Yellow Car Charitable Trust, an arrangement that expires after 2017 when Angela will have to have set up diverse funding. In 2014-15 the hall sold 23,000 tickets with half the events sold out. And her choice as the stand-out event of her new season? “The Glass Knight, our insanely ambitious schools opera involving over 300 secondary and primary school children across the area in a new opera we have commissioned based on a local legend,” she says.


ABO/Rhinegold Orchestra Manager of the Year Award

It takes considerable courage and great skill for any manager to challenge convention and deliver beneficial change. Sarah Alexander, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, harnessed both attributes to make a significant difference to one of the country’s most admired arts organisations in 2015. Under her leadership the NYO widened its recruitment base far beyond the precincts and playing fields of Britain’s public schools, touching the lives of 1,556 young musicians and almost 4,000 audience members from the state school sector, 2,800 teenagers among them. Sarah Alexander’s NYO Inspire project lived up to its name, driven by an extensive programme of peer-led ensemble workshops, performance opportunities, and a 10-day Inspire Orchestra Residency. Her Inspire scheme’s high aspirations, receptive attitude and egalitarian vision recall the noble spirit surrounding the NYO’s creation in the post-war world. They also reflect Sarah’s ongoing work to rebalance the proportion of state and private school pupils in membership of the 164-strong NYO from one in two to nine in ten.

While NYO Inspire sowed seeds for the future, last year’s crop of National Youth Orchestra players set down vintage performances. They embraced symphonies by Mahler and Elgar, revived Percy Grainger’s The Warriors, and gave life to new scores by Unsuk Chin and Tansy Davies. Sir Mark Elder, who conducted the NYO in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and Davies’s Re-greening at the BBC Proms and on tour in Berlin, noted how the Inspire mentoring experience had brought increased maturity and heightened expressive freedom and confidence to the orchestra’s exceptional teenaged talent. The energy and positivity generated by Sarah Alexander and her young administrative team were widely credited within and outside the organisation as factors contributing to a genuine golden age in the National Youth Orchestra’s history. The ABO/Rhinegold Orchestra Manager of the Year Award goes to Sarah Alexander, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

ABO/Rhinegold Artist Manager of the Year Award

Smoothing the path for highly talented young musicians with undoubted potential into a frighteningly competitive profession has always been a challenging task. It simply isn’t always feasible for commercial artist managements to adopt that role. A variety of organisations take on the task of bringing youthful talent to our attention, and tonight in this award we celebrate one of these. It specialises in offering a broad management service to selected young musicians for a crucial period in their careers. In the 2014-15 season this organisation celebrated its 30th anniversary. During that time it handled over 450 engagements for its artists with all manner of promoters - from orchestras such as the Philharmonia and English Chamber Orchestra, to festivals, music clubs  and opera companies across the UK. And a string of young performers have gone on in that time to be taken up by commercial artist managements. The ABO/Rhinegold Artist Manager of the Year Award goes to the inspirational Chief Executive of the Young Concert Artists Trust, Alasdair Tait.


For more information please contact:

Claire Willis, Eleven Tenths PR on 07951 600362 or at claire.willis@eleventenths.co.uk