Association of British Orchestras

Creative Solutions: ABO Announces Annual Conference in Bristol 24 – 26 January 2024

The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) Annual Conference, the UK’s leading classical music forum, will come to Bristol on 24 – 26 January 2024. The sector will come together at this unmissable event, tackling the challenges of inclusive recruitment; emerging technologies; sustainability; and how we can shift the dial in the narrative around the impact and value of the work of British orchestras, on and off the concert platform.

Hosted by the newly transformed Bristol Beacon, this year’s conference will offer a fresh approach and more interactivity for delegates.

Features of the 2024 Conference will include:

  • A performance double bill featuring a ‘fireside chat’ between incoming Chair of Bristol Beacon, Jonathan Dimbleby and Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire MP, prior to an immersive performance by the Paraorchestra, an integrated orchestra of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians - the first of its kind in the UK. The audience will be invited to walk amongst a 34-piece orchestra as they chart an immersive odyssey through drone.
  • The refreshed 2024 ABO Classical Music Awards, celebrating the people who make the UK classical music sector brilliant – whatever their role, or team. The 2024 ABO Classical Music Awards, presented by ABO Principal Media Partner Classic FM and hosted in partnership with Media Partner Classical Music Magazine will take a new form. Instead of being linked to specific management roles, the awards champion the ABO’s values by recognising individuals, teams or initiatives that demonstrate inspiration, innovation or collaboration within the ABO’s priority areas: Equity, diversity and inclusion; Learning and development; Green orchestras; Health and wellbeing; and Innovation and digital.
  • Two ‘Deep Dive’ sessions delving into key issues the sector is currently grappling with – building the narrative we need around classical music, in association with the Royal Philharmonic Society, and developing better pathways from higher education to the profession. These bumper sessions will include presentations and provocations from a range of contrasting speakers and facilitated discussions, resulting in tangible actions and recommendations for impactful change.

The 2024 Conference will give a platform to new voices as well as familiar ones, both experienced and less experienced, and will provoke debate and dialogue between delegates and through its interactive marketplace present throughout the Conference.

ABO CEO, Judith Webster, said: “In acknowledging the challenging times we are currently experiencing, and the specific impact on the arts, the 2024 Conference will be an opportunity to share creative solutions – past, present and future. We want to hear about recent successes, work in progress – including the challenges and diversions dealt with along the way, and future solutions yet to be realised.”

The three-day Conference will hear from over 40 prominent figures from across the worlds of music, culture and politics, as well as voices from outside the sector. Over 300 delegates from every part of the UK’s classical music industry will come together alongside international delegates through the British Council’s Professional Exchange Programme.

ABO’s Conference partnerships continue with Principal Media Partner Classic FM, Media Partner Classical Music Magazine, Charity Partner Help Musicians and International Partner the British Council.

Bookings are open now, with a discounted early booking rates available until 14 December 2023:

Further announcements of Conference speakers, sessions and new initiatives will be shared over the coming weeks, so watch this space.

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in Gateshead,
hosted by The Glasshouse ICM, from 5-7 February 2025.