ABO Awards announced at annual conference

The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) announced the winners of its fifth annual ABO/Rhinegold Awards on the opening night of its 2016 conference. Four prizes were given out in a glitzy gala at Birmingham City Hall, accompanied by music from City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Officiating the prize-giving was Classic FM’s Margherita Taylor, who hosts late night show Smooth Classics.

Music publisher Sally Groves took home the ABO award. ‘Behind every great composer is a great publisher, and few have made a greater contribution to nurturing the relationship between composers and orchestras than Sally Groves,’ said ABO chair Kathryn McDowell. Groves retired as creative director of music publisher Schott in 2014 after a 40-year career with the company.

Artist Manager of the year went to Alasdair Tait, chief executive of Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT). The citation recognised the value of YCAT’s work in helping young musicians through the most difficult phase of their careers.

Meanwhile Angela Dixon picked up concert hall manager of the year. Dixon is chief executive at Saffron Hall, a 740-seat state-of-the-art performance space in Great Chesterford. Since it opened in 2013 it has hosted London Philharmonic Orchestra, Maxim Vengerov, Penguin Café and Nicola Benedetti, selling 23,000 tickets in 2014/15.

Finally Sarah Alexander, chief executive and artistic director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO), was named orchestra manager of the year. The citation recognised NYO’s egalitarian approach to youth music, especially its newly established NYO Inspire scheme.

ABO’s 2016 conference runs until 22 January and focuses on the theme of place makers and the role culture plays in creating place.