&ldquoAs Alsop faced the cellos and drew from them the most tremendously shaped phrases with every inflection of her baton, you were aware of being in the presence of greatness.&rdquo
26th January 2018
Marin Alsop honored by ABO at Annual Awards

The annual ABO Rhinegold Awards, presented at the ABO conference dinner in Cardiff on Thursday 25 January, have recognised excellence in the fields of orchestral, concert hall and artist management.  The prestigious ABO Award went to conductor Marin Alsop, the first woman to conduct the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the orchestral life of the UK, and in particular her support for women conductors.  She thanked the former chair Kathryn McDowell and the ABO Board in a video acceptance speech and a formal presentation will take place on 4 February at a concert at the Royal Festival Hall.  

“It’s an incredible honour to receive this award.  I fell in love with British orchestras when I first conducted here in the 1990s; not only are they incredible musicians with an admirable and intense work ethic, they are always a lot of fun.  This recognition means a great deal, not only to me, but to everyone I work with.  Music has the power to change lives, to challenge, and to inspire and I dedicate this award to the future generation of conductors, musicians and audiences.” Marin Alsop

New ABO Chair Gavin Reid presented a special ABO Award to John Smith, former General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union.

Winners in the Artist Manager of the Year category were Bettina Mehne and Bernhard Kerres of Hello Stage. Their publication Be Your Own Manager, is designed to help musicians better understand the processes involved in career development, and complements their ‘Hello Stage’ online support portal and workshops in conservatoires.

Taking the accolade of Concert Hall Manager of the Year was Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square.  His vision for the venue as a national centre for championing engagement with Baroque music, a genre ideally suited to the architecture and acoustic of the converted church, has led to audience numbers rising dramatically and a re-vitalisation of the historic venue.

Sue Mallet, Director of Planning, London Symphony Orchestra, was the winner of Orchestral Manager of the Year for her outstanding track record in concerts planning and international touring as well finessing in the past year the arrival of Sir Simon Rattle and the first visit of an international orchestra to Vietnam. A legend in orchestral administration circles who has worked at the LSO for fifty years, she has trained generations of staff now working within the orchestral sector in this country and abroad.


Artist Manager of the Year

Bettina Mehne and Bernhard Kerres of Hello Stage

Concert Hall Manager of the Year

Richard Heason, Director of St John’s Smith Square

Orchestra Manager of the Year

Sue Mallet, Director of Planning, London Symphony Orchestra


Marin Alsop


John Smith, former General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union


The ABO Conference is the UK’s leading conference for the classical music industry, with delegates including chief executives, senior management staff and musicians from across the ABO membership, as well as the wider classical music industry including concert halls, festivals, broadcasters, and funding agencies.  The 2018 Conference is jointly hosted by three collaborating organisations in Cardiff:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Welsh National Opera and Sinfonia Cymru.  Keynote speakers include Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC, Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive, British Council, Kevin Brennan, MP, Shadow Culture Minister, Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Wales, Sam Jackson, Managing Editor, Classic FM, Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, Rebecca Allen, President, Decca Records Group UK, Jasper Hope, Chief Executive, Dubai Opera, and BBC Radio 3 presenter Katie Derham. Debates and sessions will focus on all aspects of collaboration, including the challenges posed by Brexit, and progress in diversity one year on from the 2017 ABO conference.

About the Association of British Orchestras

The ABO is the national body representing the collective interests of professional orchestras, youth ensembles and the wider classical music industry throughout the UK.  The ABO’s mission is to enable and support an innovative, collaborative and sustainable orchestral sector by providing advice, support, intelligence and information to the people who make British orchestras a global success.  Recent initiatives include Resonate in association with PRS for Music and BBC Radio 3, which supports the best orchestral music of the last 25 years, and Find Your Way which identifies and offers training to future sector leaders.  The ABO campaigned successfully for Orchestra Tax Relief and continues to lobby for the sector at the highest levels.