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'Aftershock'2021 Association Of British Orchestras Conference To Take Place In March

The forum will take place online from Wednesday 10 March – Friday 12 March.

'Aftershock'2021 Association Of British Orchestras Conference To Take Place In March

The annual Association of British Orchestras Conference, the UK's leading classical music forum, will take place online from Wednesday 10 March - Friday 12 March.

With Classic FM, the UK's most popular classical music station, as Principal Media Partner, Classical Music as Online Media Partner, Help Musicians as Charity Partner and the British Council as International Partner, the conference will bring together speakers, panellists and delegates from across the UK and abroad to examine the critical issues facing the classical music sector and to discuss the support and innovation needed to forge an ambitious and sustainable future for the industry.

Through a series of keynote speeches and interactive panel discussions, the three-day online conference will focus on the theme of 'Aftershock', analysing the seismic issues that have sent shockwaves through the sector - from the devastating impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the threatening repercussions of Brexit, to the urgency of the climate change crisis and the reignited call to confront classical music's inequities and action meaningful change in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. It will also offer an opportunity to champion the invention and flexibility shown by orchestras and musicians in continuing to connect with audiences, and to discuss the new approaches they can take forward to adapt to the new post-COVID landscape and build recovery. For the first time, the opening day of the conference will be free to attend for musicians, hosted in partnership with Help Musicians.

Amongst the speakers, Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Digital & Culture will give a keynote speech, while the Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, will discuss his vision for rebuilding the arts and delivering on ACE's 10 year strategy Let's Create. The role of broadcasting in a post-COVID world will be explored in a session led by Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Classical Music, Alan Davey, and examining how other countries and their orchestras have coped with the pandemic, the British Council's Director of Music, Cathy Graham OBE will chair a discussion with international colleagues including Simon Woods, President and Chief Executive of the League of American Orchestras.

The risk inherent in the UK's mixed economy model for arts funding, the sustainability - both financial and environmental - of orchestras' reliance on international touring, the future for repertoire and commissioning, the opportunities and challenges of digital performance, classical music's role within the UK's health, wellbeing and social care ecology, and the urgent need for new approaches to ensure orchestras genuinely reflect the communities they serve are amongst the other topics that will be discussed with speakers including Katy Balls, Deputy Political Editor, The Spectator; Sarah Derbyshire MBE, Chief Executive, Orchestras Live; Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times; Richard Morrison, Chief Culture Writer, The Times; Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive, UK Music; and Vanessa Reed, President & CEO, New Music USA.

Mark Pemberton, Director, Association of British Orchestras:

Now more than ever we need to bring together all those involved in orchestral music, managers and musicians, to reflect on the challenges we have faced this past year and look ahead to how we rebuild. A year's shutdown of the sector has stretched its fragile business model as never before, and has fallen particularly hard on freelance musicians, many of whom have faced a complete loss of income. We are grateful to our partners for showing their support for the ABO and its members, and hope the conference will provide a bridge to a more secure future.

Phil Noyce, Managing Editor, Classic FM:

At Classic FM, we constantly witness the positive effect that listening to classical music has on our audience. This reaction has been even more apparent over the past year, in which we've welcomed many new listeners to the station. They tell us they tune in for the comfort and companionship we provide through the music we play - all, of course, made possible by the many featured recordings from the UK's great orchestras, choirs, ensembles and soloists. It's a privilege to support the ABO conference after an extraordinary year as we continue to share the incredible work of British musicians with our 5.5 million weekly listeners and 5 million followers on social media.

Claire Gevaux, Director of Programme, Help Musicians:

Help Musicians is delighted to be the charity partner at ABO's annual conference in 2021, the charity's centenary year. The past 10 months have shown us the power of music to unite, soothe and lift us in the most challenging of times but it has also highlighted the ongoing need to support the musicians behind the music - both in times of crisis and opportunity. We look forward to discussing and sharing how we can all collaborate to help musicians adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving new landscape.

Nominations are still open for the long-standing ABO/Classical Music Awards presented in partnership with the ABO's Online Media Partner Classical Music which will be announced at the conference alongside the annual ABO Award. An opportunity to champion those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, ABO members are encouraged to nominate colleagues who have gone above and beyond to bring music to audiences and into our communities whilst the industry continues to navigate the unprecedented and critical impact of the pandemic. For more details visit

The ABO Conference is open to members and non-members. For further information on the schedule and how to purchase online tickets, visit

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