Wednesday 25 July 2012

Change at the top for LPO

The London Philharmonic Orchestra has just announced that it is changing the structure of its Board. The orchestra is player owned; the shareholders are all the playing members of the orchestra and they have now decided to make changes. The orchestra was founded in 1932 by Sir Thomas Beecham, but when he left the orchestra in 1939 the company was re-founded as one entirely owned by the players.

For the first time, Board’s Chair will not be a player; the new Chair, Victoria Sharp, was previously Chair of the London Philharmonic Trust. Also five new Board places have been created for voluntary non-executive directors, so there will now be seven players and 12 non-players on the Board. This effectively merges the governance of the LPO with the London Philharmonic Trust, an organisation that has a mainly fundraising objective; hopefully a nice piece of red-tape reduction.

The new President will be the head of the players committee, Stewart McILwham (flautist and principal piccolo).

The changes bring greater external skills to the Board at a time when the orchestra’s turnover is rising, money from central government is dropping and fundraising becomes more and more important. But the result is also to dilute the player presence on the Board, for the first time non-players out-number players. Whilst this recognises, perhaps, that an orchestra is a large, complex financial instrument which requires much specialist input, it does also raise he possibility of divisions in times of trial.

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