Association of British Orchestras

Louise Mitchell CBE, Chief Executive of the Bristol Beacon, Honoured at the Association of British Orchestras Awards 2024

Announced at a live event at the Bristol Beacon on the evening of Wednesday 24 January, the award ceremony also revealed the winners of the refreshed 2024 ABO Classical Music Awards, which celebrated the work of Scottish Ensemble, the Recruiting Classical consortium, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music & Health team and Manchester Camerata’s Principal Flute and Resident Music Therapist, Amina Hussain.

As the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) Conference kicks off in Bristol, the industry body has announced Louise Mitchell CBE, Chief Executive of the Bristol Beacon as the recipient of its prestigious annual ABO Award.

Having spearheaded the regeneration of Glasgow’s most revered venues, the City Halls and The Old Fruitmarket, as well as the transformation of the Bristol Beacon, the South West’s largest concert venue, Mitchell was recognised as an exceptional and highly regarded cultural leader who has passionately worked to introduce people in the UK to music throughout her career. Aside from her chief executive roles, she has given her time and expertise to numerous musical organisations such as the Paraorchestra, the National Children’s Orchestras and the Royal Philharmonic Society, providing wisdom and leadership, connections and care of the musical life of this country.

Sophie Lewis, Chair of ABO said: “Louise is a leader who has had a profound impact on the cultural life of the UK. Her impact on the lives of audience members, musicians and on young people starting out on their musical careers, at some of the most high-profile cultural institutions in the country has been significant and measurable. She thoroughly deserves the ABO award at the 2024 conference, fittingly taking place at Bristol Beacon.”

The ABO Award is presented annually to the individual or institution considered by the membership to have made the most important contribution to the orchestral life of the UK. The ABO Award is unique among the many prestigious awards and prizes in the music world because its recipient is nominated by the member orchestras themselves.

Nominated by their peers throughout the industry, the recipients of the refreshed ABO Classical Music Awards were also announced. Rather than being linked to specific management roles, this year’s awards recognised the initiatives, teams and individuals whose work demonstrated inspiration, innovation or collaboration.

The four awards were presented in partnership with ABO Media Partner Classical Music Magazine and the event was hosted by Classic FM presenter Aled Jones.

Scottish Ensemble was recognised for its leading work in using an evidence-based approach to environmental sustainability. A co-founder of the Scottish Classical Sustainability Group, emphasising the responsibility of the cultural sector in advocating for urgent change, Scottish Ensemble have shown how a smaller orchestra can inspire and lead a sector when it comes to sustainable touring and sustainability in the round.

The Recruiting Classical consortium of symphony and chamber orchestra leaders, in partnership with Black Lives in Music, was celebrated for their pioneering work in driving diversity and opportunity in recruitment. With a specific focus on supporting orchestral string players from the Global Majority, the project included an open and inclusive audition process, a series of workshops to develop audition experience and the formation of a shared extra list. An integral part of the initiative were musician-led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Groups, ensuring their existing musicians were central to the project and continue to shape its future.

As one of the first to bring the impact of orchestral music to healthcare and communities, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music & Health team were recognised for being a leading example of how orchestras are relevant, accessible and impactful beyond the concert hall. A genuine collaboration between musicians, management, NHS partners and participants, the orchestra’s healthcare programme has supported over 18,000 people living with mental and physical ill health across the Liverpool City Region. Now in its 15th year, it is one of the longest continuously running Music and Health programmes working in partnership with the NHS.

Manchester Camerata’s Principal Flute and Resident Music Therapist, Amina Hussain was awarded an ABO Classical Music Award for demonstrating the unique power of music to improve lives. A professional concert musician and community leader, Hussain has been working with Manchester Camerata’s Music in Mind team delivering music-based therapy for people living with dementia, running weekly sessions for people with learning disabilities in a residential home and working with older adults to reduce isolation.

The annual ABO Conference, the UK’s leading classical music forum, took place in Bristol, bringing together over 350 delegates from every part of the industry from the UK and abroad this week (24-26 January). The Conference heard from prominent figures from across the worlds of music, culture, media and politics including Arts Minister Lord Parkinson, Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire MP, celebrated presenter Jonathan Dimbleby, Naomi Pohl, General Secretary, Musicians Union and Sam Jackson, Controller, BBC Radio 3.

Photo credit: Chris Cooper, ShotAway

Annual Conference

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