British Orchestras Conference in Belfast to Focus on 'Border Issues'

Rafael Payare conducting the Ulster Orchestra which will host the conference in Belfast.

British Orchestras Conference in Belfast to Focus on 'Border Issues'

Ulster Orchestra will host annual conference of the Association of British Orchestras in Belfast next week – and premiere a new work by Ryan Molloy.

The Association of British Orchestras annual conference will take place next week in Belfast from Wednesday 23 to Friday 25 January.

This year’s conference, hosted by Ulster Orchestra, will focus on border issues as they effect the UK classical music industry, including the potential impact of Brexit, and topics such as diversity and the division between musicians and management. 

Speaking about the conference, ABO Director Mark Pemberton said: 

Brexit will of course be a topic, but with so little concrete information available even at this advanced stage, we will be taking the opportunity to look beyond geography and politics. What other boundaries exist? What are the barriers that inhibit reaching wider audiences?

The conference will open with a performance of a new work, Béal, by Irish composer Ryan Molloy, commissioned by the Ulster Orchestra and performed by the orchestra’s brass section, followed by a performance by the Czech Čhavorenge choir. Ulster Orchestra will also perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4 conducted by Rafael Payare, with guest musicians from across Europe.

The keynote address will be given by Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland. Also speaking are Steve Brosvik of Nashville Symphony and John Kieser of New World Symphony (Florida), who will discuss diversity and inclusion in the USAndrew Miller, UK Disability Champion for Arts & Culture, will be joined by conductor James Rose to discuss Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Change Makers project, a disabled-led ensemble. 

Catherine Arlidge, CBSO violinist and Artistic and Educational Director of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, will present information about the ABO ‘Find Your Way’ programme in discussion with current participants of the scheme. Roger Scruton will present the final session of the conference, discussing topics of accessibility and classical music and a defence of ‘elitism’.

Download the full programme below. For further information, visit

Listen to a series of podcasts about last year’s ABO conference in Cardiff. 


Published on 16 January 2019

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