Ralph Bernard Steps In As Chief Executive At Royal Albert

The Royal Albert Hall is pleased to announce that Ralph Bernard will be succeeding David Elliott as Chief Executive when David retires at the end of May after eleven years in the post.

Over the past 25 years Ralph Bernard has played a leading role in the development of UK commercial radio. He was responsible for the creation of Classic FM, the UK's most successful commercial radio station with a weekly audience of almost six million, and remains its Non-Executive Chairman. He was Chief Executive of the GWR Group from 1982 becoming Chairman in 2001. Following GWR's merger with Capital Radio to form GCap Media in 2005, Ralph served as the Chairman and then Chief Executive, a position from which he stepped down last year.

He has played a leading role in the development of digital radio in the UK and for eight years was Chairman of the Digital Radio Development Bureau. He is also Chairman of the UK's only national commercial digital carrier, Digital One.

Ralph was appointed a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2002 for his services to broadcasting. His other interests include serving as Chairman of the Central School of Ballet, as Chairman of the British Lung Foundation and as a Director of the Watermill Theatre, Newbury.

Announcing the appointment, John Antcliffe President of the Governing Council of the Royal Albert Hall, said:

"This is great news for the Hall. Ralph's deep understanding of media and entertainment and wide business experience will be of immense value in the years ahead. The Hall has never been in better shape - we have an exciting programme for the rest of 2009 and have every reason to look to the future with confidence."

Commenting on his appointment, Ralph Bernard said:
"I am enormously excited to be joining one of the world's leading entertainment venues. The Hall has made significant strides in its programming content over the past 10 years and I am determined to ensure that it continues to play a central role in our cultural life."

Ralph Bernard will take up his position on 1 June.

The Royal Albert Hall is one of the UK's most treasured and magical buildings, recognisable the world over. It is a registered charity and operates without public subsidy. Since opening in 1871, the Hall has had an unparalleled history of exceptional performances by the world's leading artists. Today over 350 events are held in the Hall's auditorium each year which include performances of classical, jazz, world music, rock and pop, dance, comedy, film premières and award ceremonies. Audiences of well over a million are entertained each year and many millions more around the world enjoy the Hall experience through broadcasts, recordings and new media channels.

During David Elliott's tenure as Chief Executive, the Hall has been through an unprecedented period of development and growth, most notably the completion of a major £70 million Lottery funded eight-year building development project in early 2004 which has ensured the Hall is well equipped to meet and exceed the expectations of promoters, artists and audiences.

Since the completion of this project, the Hall has moved forward with its ambitions to make this iconic building open to the public during the day with tours of the building and a series of programming initiatives including ignite, lunchtime jazz and world music in the Café Consort; reflect, a free exhibition series; hush, a series of gigs in the Hall's Elgar Room for just signed bands; and The Albert Sessions which offer discounted rates to young bands to bring young bands and their audiences into the main auditorium.

The Hall's founding Charter requires it to maintain the building and through it to promote the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the Arts and Sciences. As part of this public benefit role, the Hall launched an extensive Learning and Participation programme in 2004 which to date has now enabled over 128,000 young people to participate in and learn more about the performing arts, science and the cultural industries.

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