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John Gilhooly Elected Chairman Of Great Britain's Royal Philharmonic Society

John Gilhooly, Director of Wigmore Hall in London, has been elected Chairman of Great Britain's Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS), to take effect immediately. He succeeds Graham Sheffield CBE who stepped down from the post after four and a half years, following his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong. As a Trustee of the RPS, John Gilhooly will assume the RPS Chairmanship in addition to the leadership of Wigmore Hall.

Previously, John Gilhooly was Honorary Secretary of the RPS and has been a central part of the Society's Council since 2007. He will lead the Society as it moves towards celebrations for its bicentennial in 2013.

John Gilhooly commented: "It is a great honor to be asked to take on the chairmanship of the RPS in the run up to its bicentennial in 2013. Together with its Director, Staff and Council, I look forward to building on its strong traditions and successes, and especially on the legacy of its two most recent Chairmen, Graham Sheffield and his predecessor, Tony Fell. The RPS has a crucial role to play in securing the future of classical music in this country, as an advocate and champion for musicians and the music industry, especially at a time when public funding for the arts will be under some considerable pressure. The bicentenary of the RPS is a good time to reinforce and redefine its vital role in the international music world."

Irish-born John Gilhooly, 36, became Artistic and Executive Director of Wigmore Hall in early 2005, making him the youngest leader of any of the world's great concert halls. He had been Executive Director of Wigmore Hall since 2000, and is credited with having overseen the financial and administrative transformation of the Hall over the past 10 years. His tenure as Artistic Director has seen record box office returns and the Hall's highest ever membership levels, as well as a 50% increase in overall revenue and annual fundraising. His tenure has coincided with two successful capital campaigns amounting to £7 million (approximately $10.7 million USD). In 2004 he managed the refurbishment of the Hall and in 2006 he led the acquisition of a 250-year lease for Wigmore Hall. John Gilhooly also established the Hall's highly regarded CD label Wigmore Hall Live, and introduced an ambitious new music and commissioning plan, expanding Wigmore Hall's programming in both traditional and new directions. Mr. Gilhooly is a native of Limerick, which boasts a strong chamber music and opera tradition. He studied History and Political Science at University College, Dublin, graduating in 1994. In addition to his academic studies, he pursued classical vocal studies, as a tenor, at the Dublin City College of Music and the Leinster School of Music, under the renowned soprano and teacher Dr. Veronica Dunne.

Following a period as a tutor in the Department of Modern History and as an administrator at University College, Dublin's O'Reilly Hall - an 800-seat concert and events venue - John Gilhooly moved to work at Harrogate International Centre and then ExCeL, The London International Centre, a £300 million (approximately $459 million USD) venue situated on the Royal Victoria Dock.

John Gilhooly is Patron of the performing arts organization Irish Heritage and is Trustee of The Opera Group. As Artistic Director of Wigmore Hall, he programs the largest chamber music and song series in the world. He will celebrate 10 years as a member of Wigmore Hall's staff later this year. He has planned Wigmore Hall's ambitious 110th Anniversary Season, which runs from September 2010 to July 2011.

As Chairman, Graham Sheffield continued the transformation of the RPS started by his predecessor Tony Fell, building strong partnerships within the industry and broadening the breadth of work undertaken by the Society. As a result, the Society now offers wider support for young musicians, creates more opportunities for composers of all generations and leads the field in musical debate. It sets a respected international benchmark for excellence through its awards and has developed distinctive creative multi-disciplinary approaches to furthering the understanding of music through projects such as the UK's first classical music listening project, Hear Here! presented in partnership with Classic FM.

Graham Sheffield commented: "It's been a great privilege to have led the RPS as Chairman since 2005. With the support of many colleagues I believe we have made substantial progress, but there remains much to do, especially in the run up to the bicentennial in 2013. Increased success, such as we are enjoying, always brings with it greater challenges. I have every confidence that the Society will continue to flourish under John Gilhooly's chairmanship, and with the superb leadership as Executive Director of RoseMary Johnson."

The Royal Philharmonic Society is a unique organization (under the immediate patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II), with a rich musical history and legacy reaching back almost 200 years. Today it is equally comprised of professional musicians and music lovers and undertakes a complex tapestry of creative activities and philanthropic work in the musical world. The Society is one of the two oldest music societies in the world, "formed to promote in the most perfect manner possible, the best music." The RPS commissioned Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and supported the composer through his illness later in life.

Born of professional musicians, the Society opened the doors of England to the world's best music and performers in 1813. It created a bridge between the profession and audiences that has lasted nearly two hundred years. The results have raised standards, created controversy and stimulated innovation in classical music in the UK.

Over the last decade the Society has revitalized itself, reinvented itself and clarified its vision and mission, focusing its activities around three key themes, each in its own way a contribution towards creating a future for music: encouraging creativity in music; promoting the understanding of music; and recognizing excellence in music and musicians.

Current recipients of the Society's highest honor, the RPS Gold Medal, are: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Janet Baker, Bernard Haitink, Alfred Brendel, Colin Davis, Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Simon Rattle, Placido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, Claudio Abbado, Charles Mackerras, Daniel Barenboim, Henri Dutilleux and Thomas Quasthoff. For additional information, please visit the RPS website:

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