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RSNO chief takes top job at ABRSM

24 June 2014, Alex Stevens

Michael Elliott, currently chief executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, has been appointed chief executive of ABRSM. He will take over the role from the retiring Leslie East in January 2015. 


Before the RSNO, Elliott had been director of culture at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Before that he had been chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, during which time he also played a role in planning the city’s European Capital of Culture activities. 


Colette Bowe, chairman of ABRSM’s governing body, said that there had been ‘huge interest in this role and a large number of people were considered’, but that the trustees had been impressed by Elliott’s ‘range of strengths, qualities and relevant experience’. 


Elliott called ABRSM ‘world class’ and said that he looked forward to ‘leading it in its next phase of development’. He said that it would be ‘a considerable wrench’ to leave the RSNO, its chorus and youth chorus and staff. ‘I will always remain an enthusiastic ambassador for this great orchestra and nation.’ 


East took over the ABRSM chief executive’s role in spring 2013, following the resignation of previous incumbent Guy Perricone. In a recent interview for Music Teacher magazine he said that he was expecting to retire leaving the organisation ‘in a good state’ having lead a programme of infrastructure development for an organisation which operates grade exams in close to 100 countries worldwide. The changes would ‘certainly make life inside [the ABRSM] building tremendously easier and more effective’, he said. 


‘The governing body wishes to thank Leslie very warmly indeed for his outstanding leadership of ABRSM,’ said a statement, ‘and for all his long service to us, including a very successful time as director of publishing.’ 


The RSNO said a recruitment process was ‘already underway’ to find Elliott’s successor. Its chair, Brian Lang, said: ‘Michael Elliott has been a highly successful chief executive for the RSNO. His period in office has seen the growth in the size and diversity of audiences, artistic success, and increasing support from funders and supporters. 


‘He has made a substantial impact on planning for the new home that will replace Henry Wood Hall. As we approach our 125th anniversary, the board is grateful to Michael for all he has done to put the orchestra in good shape for the future. We will miss him, but wish him well in his new venture.’

Professorship in Performance Practice Announced

24 June 2014

Trinity Laban has announced the appointment of John Irving as Professor of Performance Practice. The chair was awarded in recognition of Irving’s research achievements.

John Irving is an internationally recognised Mozart scholar. Formerly director of the Institute of Musical Research at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, Irving was also Professor of Music at the universities of London and Bristol. As a performer on the early keyboard, Irving has recorded CDs of Mozart, Vanhal, Beethoven and Haydn. Irving has also contributed to a number of scholarly publications, including the Cambridge Companion to the Symphony, and the Oxford Handbook of Musical Topic Theory.

The announcement follows the appointment of Professor Irving as a Reader in Music at Trinity Laban in April 2013.

Irving said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to have been granted this title, and look forward to extending in a conservatoire context the work I began in performance practice research as Professor of Music at the universities of Bristol and London. In particular, I look forward to engaging with audiences outside higher education through my role, as well as research advocacy within Trinity Laban itself.’

Scratch Youth Messiah returns!

19 June 2014

The second Scratch Youth Messiah will take place at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 30 November 2014, raising money for Water Aid UK.

School and youth choirs of all levels of experienced are invited to come and sing Handel’s Messiah alongside a professional orchestra and soloists, conducted by Suzy Dibgy OBE. Those taking part in the event can raise money for Water Aid by filling empty water bottles with coins for its ‘Bottle It’ campaign. The school raising the most money will receive a £500 voucher to spend at specialist singing suppliers ChoraLine.com.

Choirs comprising children and young singers under the age of 25 are requested to register their interest now. Over 1,000 free places have been made available and choirs can choose to sing everything, or just join in with the opening chorus, ‘Hallelujah’ chorus, and final ‘Amen’. Last year saw 42 ensembles participating at the inaugural event, with enthusiastic feedback.

‘We hadn’t even got out of our seats before one little dot in Year 5 asked if we could sing a bit more of it next year!’ commented a teacher from St Mary’s school, Worcester.

The Scratch Youth Messiah will take place at 14:00 and will be followed by the 40th annual evening performance of Messiah From Scratch by The Really Big Chorus, the UK’s largest choral society.

Information packs for schools and choir leaders are available from the Youth Messiah website.

New head of Junior Trinity announced

17 June 2014

Tabby Estell
Tabby Estell

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance has announced the appointment of Tabby Estell as the new head of Junior Trinity. Tabby will take over from Marion Friend following her retirement this summer.

Tabby has over twenty years of experience in the world of music education, including managing the London Sinfonietta’s pioneering education programme. She has also held specialist education positions in a number of organisations, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre.

Marion Friend commented: ‘I am really delighted that Tabby has been appointed as my successor at Junior Trinity. I know that she shares my commitment to the highest level of music education for young people as well as bringing a wealth of experience from her work with leading professional arts organisations. I hope she enjoys the role as much as I have over the past 12 years.’

Dr Claire Mera Nelson, director of music at Trinity Laban, added: ‘Tabby is the perfect successor to fill the very big shoes left by Marion. She is a guardian of knowledge about excellence in music as well as someone with strong and innate sense of what is needed for young people. I would like to pay tribute to Marion and her many years of dedicated work in growing the reputation and quality of Junior Trinity, which today is one of the finest and most inclusive Saturday schools for gifted and talented young musicians in the world.’

Talented Young Musicians Report

16 June 2014

Hand on Heart Arts recently conducted some research into the need for a musical talent and progression programme for young people living in the East Midlands region.

The research, commissioned by the East Midlands music education hubs and The Mighty Creatives (East Midlands ACE Bridge Organisation) found some gaps in music provision. In their report, Hand on Heart Arts identified a number of opportunities for partners to work together to find new ways to engage young people in music making, performance, production and consumption.

This ‘Talented Young Musicians Report’ brings case studies of young musicians from a wide range of backgrounds, and suggests ways in which professionals can identify and support talent and potential in pupils across a range of contexts and abilities. Whilst the report is focused on the East Midlands region, many of the issues raised are not specific to this one area and contain points of interest for sectors across the country.

The report can be found on The Mighty Creatives website, and the Hand on Heart Arts website.


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